Images of railway stations of the future, planned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are mesmerising. Railway stations will now look better than airports. They will have facilities for commuters which, till now, were considered unthinkable in our country.
Indian Railways will revamp the New Delhi, Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Ahmedabad railway stations by giving them a futuristic look at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved this long-awaited proposal, which had been hanging fire since the days Lalu Prasad Yadav was Railway Minister in the UPA government.
The stations will have roof-top plazas, entertainment lounges, playing areas, waiting areas, food courts and recreational facilities. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said, the earlier proposal for redeveloping these stations on a public-private-partnership (PPP) basis has been discarded, and they will now be redeveloped through budgetary means. Tenders for the projects will be called through Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) mode.
The stations will be redeveloped with futuristic design, with stress on users’ convenience. The exact break up of the cost will be available, once the tenders for these projects are floated in the next ten days, Vaishnaw said. The redevelopment of these three stations will take two to three and a half years. The target year is 2026. At the same time, it will be ensured that there are no traffic congestions in and around these railway stations. The master plan has been prepared for smooth movement of traffic, with adequate parking facilities.
All the roads, existing buildings, and bus and metro stations around these three railway stations will be overhauled as part of the projects. There will be a network of elevated roads to ensure smooth movement, Vaishnaw said.
Giving details about the proposed revamp, Vaishnaw said, the designs for all the three stations will include creation of spacious “roof plazas” above the platforms and tracks with all passenger amenities at one place, along with spaces for retail, cafeteria, recreational facilities and play areas for kids. This will give these railway stations an airport-type look.
The design for revamped New Delhi railway station will have two unique twin domes with four floors of roof plazas creating additional space of about 15 acres. The roof plaza will be 10 metres above the track and there will be complete segregation of arrival and departure to avoid crowding. A network of elevated roads will be built around the two domes. Passengers can wait in the roof plaza area and will come to the platform only to board a train. Similarly, after getting off a train, passengers will exit the station through the roof plaza.
For the Mumbai CST, the station will have two-floor roof plazas and additional space of around 5.5 acres. “the focus will be on smooth traffic flow and maximum convenience for passengers at these stations”, Vaishnaw said. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, declared a UNESCO heritage, will not be disturbed. Railways will develop the areas around the heritage station, and create a new block for long distance trains. Special focus will be given to deal with the large numbers of daily passengers who use the suburban railways.
For Ahmedabad railway station, the iconic design will have a huge arch inspired by the Modhera sun temple and sun-themed architecture. The station will have a wide roof plaza above the tracks. An elevated network of roads has been planned around the station for easy traffic movement. There will be an amphitheatre near the station for holding cultural events.
Normally, for passengers, railway travel had always been a cumbersome issue. For reaching a railway station to catch a train, or leaving a railway station after travel had always been problematic, with auto and taxi drivers fleecing the travellers, and hundreds of vehicles clogging the parking areas. After the three railway stations are redeveloped, passengers will get an out-of-the-world feel. They can loiter in the roof plaza, have food or snacks, their kids can play, while waiting for the train. In a nutshell, the passengers will not have to rush to the platform once they reach the station. They can take the escalator to reach the platform once the train departure is announced.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has decided to change the face of railway travel, so that passengers can get a wholesome experience. Railway stations will be redeveloped on the lines of commercial plazas, so that they can become big urban space in the heart of cities, instead of being mere railway stations.
Along with the redevelopment of New Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad stations, 199 stations, having an annual footfall of over 50 lakhs, will get a makeover in the first phase. Work has already begun on 37 stations, while tenders have been floated for 42 other stations. In the second phase, stations having an annual footfall of more than 10 lakhs will be selected for redevelopment.
At his cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Modi said, a railway station is the identity of a particular city. Railway stations, he said, must be redeveloped so that the residents of the city can take pride. Along with this, the infrastructure should be strong so that it can meet the needs for the next 50 years.
For the last 75 years since Independence, railway travellers had been facing inconvenience because of the shabby facilities that were normally provided at stations. The plans for remodelling the top three new railway stations are surely encouraging. Much planning has gone into creating these models. The redeveloped railway stations will not only provide convenience to millions of passengers but will stand as proud symbols of a new, changing India.
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