IR Station Revamp: Investors may have to leave room for Multi Level Platforms

Firms bagging contracts to redevelop railway stations may have to design construction in such a way that the national transporter’s plan for multi-level platforms at some of the busiest stations are not pre-empted.

NEW DELHI: Firms bagging contracts to redevelop railway stations may have to design construction in such a way that the national transporter’s plan for multi-level platforms at some of the busiest stations are not pre-empted. While the railway ministry is in the process of making the tender terms for station development more attractive by dumping the Swiss challenge model that has come a cropper, it is keen that future commercial/ real estate development around the stations doesn’t cripple the core function of the transporter. Multi-level platforms will allow more tracks at stations, decongesting traffic and providing more room for trains to halt.

The utilisation of air space at stations should allow building of new tracks above the existing ones, an official said. According to the sources, the suggestion that station redevelopers must not hamper the multi-level platforms was made by railway minister Piyush Goyal during his interaction with stakeholders of the station redevelopment programme earlier this month. “Rail-on-rail may be a possibility,” said a source, adding that the observation by the minister was made keeping an eye on future requirements.

The DK Mittal committee in a report submitted in December 2014 had suggested multi-level tracks. It had argued that yards in main cities experience congestion due to large movements of trains resulting in delays. The suggestion to get over the problem included “stations at the peripheries of the cities” as in Paris and “multi-layered paths/tracks to eliminate the conflicting movements” as in Zurich City.

IR has one of the largest and busiest rail networks across the world which operates more than 20,000 trains per day including over 12,500 passenger trains in addition to 7,000-plus freight trains. It ferries over 23 million passengers every day from across more than 7,000 railway stations and transports around 3 million tonne of freight daily. This is despite the fact that the share of railways in passenger transportation segment is now just 10% today compared with around 74% in 1951. During the same period, freight movement reduced from 74% to 33%.

The Mittal-headed committee had noted: “More than 55% of the traffic moves on the golden quadrilateral and its diagonals, connecting the four metropolitan cities, which constitute less than 20% of the total IR network. More than two-thirds of this high density network sections have utilisation of over 100%.”

The minister’s suggestion is likely to be included in the fresh tenders to be floated for the revamped station redevelopment programme. As reported earlier, given the lukewarm response by developers, the railways has decided to do away with the Swiss Challenge method under which the proposal made by the original proponent is opened to third parties to make better offers in terms of time and cost efficiency and then the original proponent is asked to counter-match the improved offer, if any.

The process will be replaced by simpler and less time-consuming single parameter bid process which will be formulated by the Indian Railway Station Redevelopment Corporation, an agency of the transporter. Under the new framework, the railways will be obtaining initial approval on overall master plan for redevelopment of few stations.

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