Redevelopment project gets upgradation ‘tweak’ at five Railway stations

NEW DELHI: Even as the ambitious Rs 1 lakh crore station redevelopment is yet to take off, the Railway Board has decided to tweak the project and carry facility upgradation rather than complete redevelopment at five railways stations.

The Board has shortlisted Pune, Secunderabad, Anand Vihar, Chandigarh and Bangalore City railway stations for upgrading passenger amenities such as escalators, lounges, toilet blocks and waiting hall among others.

Under the station redevelopment plan, a complete facelift, including structural and surroundings, was to be provided.

“While tenders have been floated for some stations for redevelopment and pre-bidding meetings have happened, it will take some time before work is started. Meanwhile, there was a thinking that Railways can take up facility improvement to provide better amenities to passengers at railways stations. Based on the response, we may expand to some other stations,” said a source in the Railway ministry.

The station redevelopment programme is touted to be one of the largest PPP programmes undertaken in the country. It will provide approximately 2,200 acre of prime land to the private developers in 100 cities.

While work at Habibganj and Gandhinagar is already in progress, the Railways invited bids for 23 stations in the phase one but response was timid. Under the plan, 400 A1 and A stations to be redeveloped will provide amenities and services to the passengers in line with best in class railway stations.

The programme is expected to generate a surplus in excess of `10,000 crore for the Indian Railways, which can be invested in other modernisation projects.

The project has faced many hurdles at policy level also and the latest being the finance ministry objecting to the railways’ proposal to appoint a single agency to carry the work and recommending work be allotted to multiple agencies. “The whole scheme has been rebooted with an idea to save time and railways joint venture company Indian Railway Station Development Corp. Ltd will be nodal agency for all works. It will soon be approved by the union cabinet,” the source added.

Earlier, the work was handed over to General Managers but a majority of them expressed inability to do the station redevelopment work, saying they want to focus on safety and infrastructure related work and this will put an extra burden on them.