Centre plans Airport Model for Secunderabad Railway station

Revamp Sec’bad rail station’s surroundings too; asks Commuters. Indian Railways ropes in private firms to modernise 23 other stations across the country.

SECUNDERABAD: The Indian Railways has decided to redevelop and modernise 23 stations across the country and is set to rope in private companies for the job. The 143-year-old Secunderabad railway station is among 23 other stations that have been shortlisted by the Centre to be modernised with the help of private players. As part of the planned facelift, authorities hope to transform the station and recreate an airport-like ambiance complete with swank restaurants and shopping complexes.

The Secunderabad station is among the ‘core stations’ connecting the north and south of the country as well as the south to the east. It caters to 1.6 lakh passengers daily.

“A blueprint of development plan is being prepared by SCR authorities currently . Once the blueprint is ready, it will be sent to the Ministry of Railways for approval,” said M Umashankar Kumar, chief public relations officer, South Central Railway. The 23 core stations will be developed at a cost of around Rs 4,000 crore, while the overall cost of building facilities in and around the stations is expected to be around Rs 25,000 crore.

The Boston Consulting Group, which conducted feasibility studies for 55 stations, found 23 including the Secunderabad station requiring an overhaul. Among the other stations that will be revamped are the Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada stations. Apart from modernising the Secunderabad station, private developers who will be roped in will also get the rights to develop surplus land near the station.

A core station in the South Central Railway zone, the iconic Secunderabad station is scheduled to undergo a major upgrade to gain an airport-like ambience with shopping arcades and restaurants. Even as the Centre has cleared the modernisation plans for the 143-year-old station, commuters are readying their wish list.

The station has been included in the list of 23 stations across the country which will be ‘overhauled’ by private players at a total investment of Rs 4,000 crore. The zonal authorities will chart a blueprint of the new layout soon, but passengers are hoping that the station surroundings will also get a new look.

High on their list of expectations is a clutter-free approach road to the major junction. “It took me exactly 15 minutes to reach the approach road to the station from Punjagutta. But navigating the road outside the station cost me 15-20 minutes. Also, the entrance to platform 1 is a picture of chaos unlike platform 10. This needs to be changed,” said Jayanth Reddy, a passenger.

Passengers also want more parking space and waiting rooms at the station. “If the station is being improved, I would suggest having reclining chairs in waiting rooms. Currently, there is limited space in the retiring rooms,” said Poojitha Rao, another railway passenger.

The station had already seen some development over the last few years under the Centre’s World Class station plan.

The authorities had built escalators on majority of the platforms, built lifts and set up electronic display boards, surveillance cameras and drinking water kiosks. Facilities such as restaurants, book stalls, waiting halls, cloak rooms, inquiry counters and foot bridges were already in place. What the redevelopment failed to fix was the levels of noise pollution on the platforms. “The noise pollution is quite high because of the constant announcements and also the sheer number of passengers and vendors. I would really like a more relaxed ambience. Also the occasional beggar seen at the station should be removed,” said Lasya N, a techie.

The land can be used for building hotels and other facilities. The lease will be for 45 years as per the plan.

The stations that will be redeveloped and modernised are — Kanpur Central, Allahabad, Lokmanya Tilak, Pune, Thane, Visakhapatnam, Horah, Kamakhya, Faridabad, Jammu Tawi, Udaipur City, Secunderabad, Vijaywada, Ranchi, Chennai Central, Kozhikide, Yesvantpur, Bangalore Cantt, Bhopal, Mumbai Central, Bandra Terminus, Borivali and Indore.

According to reports, work on the first private sector-driven redevelopment programme will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Habibganj station near Bhopal next week.

Bansal Construction have been awarded the contact to redevelop Habibganj station at Rs 400 crore. While Rs 100 crore will be spent for redeveloping the main station, the remaining amount will be utilised for creating secondary facilities.

The financial model for programme has been worked out in a way that the government doesn’t incur any expenditure as the developer will be rebuilding the stations and maintaining it for 15 years. In return, the developer will be granted 45 years’ leasing rights for the commercial properties developed at these stations.

Contracts for redeveloping Faridabad, which falls in the National Capital Region, and at least two station in Delhi (Anand Vihar and Bijwasan) are expected to be finalised by March this year.

The Prime Minister had earlier this month said that his government ‘is focused on development of railways shedding earlier practices wherein the ministry was used as a bargaining tool by the main ruling party to distribute trophies to its allies’.

He had recently laid the foundation stone for redevelopment of Gandhinagar railway station, which will get a face-lift at a cost of Rs 250 crore and will have a 300-room five star hotel built atop.