Station redevelopment is one of the flagship programmes of Indian Railways. The aim is to enhance the passenger experience by redeveloping stations as city centres with state-of-the-art amenities. The redevelopment will integrate various modes of city transport systems such as metro and bus services with railway stations. At a recent conference organised by Indian Infrastructure, Ved Parkash Dudeja, vice-chairman, Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), talked about the progress made under the programme so far and future focus areas. Edited excerpts…
India currently has over 7,000 railway stations. The idea of the station redevelopment programme is to develop infrastructure in and around stations to transform them into city centres, which not only cater to passenger traffic but also serve as city infrastructure.
India is the first country to have taken up station redevelopment on this scale. The RLDA was assigned the task of finalising master plans for the first 50 stations and work on these stations is already in progress. Commercial development of these stations will be taken up separately, once redevelopment works are complete. Redevelopment work for 15 stations will be undertaken entirely by RLDA including New Delhi station, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and Ahmedabad station. Detail project report preparation and implementation for nearly 1,100 stations will be done by the Zonal Railways. Under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme, 1,309 railway stations have been identified for redevelopment.
The government has tried several different financing models for station redevelopment. Public-private partnership has been successful for only the Rani Kamalapati station redevelopment. Other stations are now being redeveloped using government funds, with the view of rejuvenating the entire area around stations.
Key stations and experience
The New Delhi station development is one of the most iconic station redevelopment projects in the making. It has various remarkable features such as a pedestrian boulevard connecting the station to Connaught Place, the linking of a green network, and an infinity-shaped terminal building. It will also act as a multimodal transport hub. It will have a 40-floor high-rise twin tower building, which will house a hotel, offices and retail shops. A gross development of 2.55 million sq. metres has been planned. Of this, nearly 1.1 million sq. metres will be for government use and 1.45 million sq. metres will be for commercial use. The value of commercial development of New Delhi station stands at Rs 300 billion. Tenders for the redevelopment work are yet to be awarded. Once awarded, the project is expected to be completed in 45 months.
Another important station under redevelopment is Ahmedabad. A roof plaza of nearly 15 acres will be created over the tracks. The key design considerations included the city’s heritage, the high-speed rail (HSR) corridor and the metro. A 13-lane, 13 km-long elevated road network has been planned around the station. It will cater to the railway station and HSR station-bound traffic. The at-grade roads will be developed with speed calming and pedestrian infrastructure elements for seamless movement of all types of traffic. The station has 55 lifts and 38 escalators for ease of movement. The station is being redesigned to be divyang-friendly, green and smart. The total commercial area for the project is 77,250 sq. metres.
The CSMT station is being developed keeping in mind the UNESCO heritage structure, which will be retained and rejuvenated. One of the busiest stations of the country, Mumbai CSMT will be provided with a new “long distance terminal” on P D’Mello Road along with commercial space. However, no major changes will be made to its Gothic-style heritage building. The heritage station will house a spacious roof plaza, a food court, a waiting lounge, children’s play area, etc. Aside from restoring the station, the plan is to decongest the southern heritage node of the terminus, augment facilities, and ensure better multimodal integration. The tenders for the project have been awarded and the redevelopment work is expected to be completed in about two and a half years.
Challenges and the way forward
Owing to the fact that station redevelopment is primarily a brownfield project, apart from financing and investment risks, these projects also have a variety of construction-related risks as execution work has to be undertaken with running traffic and trains operating. The value of works sanctioned by the Ministry of Railways in the past two years stands at around Rs 775 billion. Station redevelopment is a complex task. Execution of such projects involves multiple stakeholders and statutory clearances. Tenders for more than 400 projects have been awarded. Going forward, the idea is to award tenders for all stations under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme.