Indian Railways Set For A Paradigm Shift With Stations Set To Become Smart City Hubs
Indian Railways Set For A Paradigm Shift With Stations Set To Become Smart City HubsShatabdi Express from Bhopal Habibganj to New Delhi (Wikimedia Commons)

Railway stations in India will no longer be the filthy, congested spaces that they currently are. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Urban Development and Railways Ministries to redevelop railway stations and their surrounding areas on ‘smart city’ lines to provide vastly improved passenger amenities, easier access to stations and to put unused railway land around stations to optimal use.

To start with, 10 cities will be taken up for the proposed redevelopment with the involvement of National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), which has successfully executed redevelopment projects on self-financing basis. These cities are Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Margao (Goa), Tirupati and Puducherry.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu noted that railway stations have been the core of city development but have become congested over time, and that their redevelopment offers immense opportunities for changing a city’s landscape.

Prabhu stated that redevelopment work of the Habibganj railway station has already been awarded, and plans for Anand Vihar (Delhi), Surat, Bijwasan and Gandhinagar are in advanced stage. He said several countries like Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, United Kingdom and Belgium have showed interest in redevelopment, and a Round Table of domestic and overseas bankers will be organised next week to discuss financing of these redevelopment projects.

To be implemented first in the 100 cities included in the Smart City Mission, redevelopment of railway stations will be undertaken in AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) and HRIDAY (Heritage Infrastructure Development and Augmentation Yojana) cities, extending the scope of the MoU to over 500 cities.

Railway stations and adjoining areas in each of these cities will be redeveloped on the lines of area-based development provided in the Smart City Mission guidelines. The average cost of redevelopment of identified areas in the Smart City Plans of 60 cities approved so far comes to about Rs 1,500 crore. The proposed redevelopment involving railway stations envisages improving passenger amenities, easy access to stations, integrated public transport hub, waiting halls and other amenities for passengers, development of residential and commercial spaces, landscaping and so on.

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