India by 2017 will have five or six top-class railway stations on the pattern of monumental Grand Central Terminal, New York, or famed Gare d’Austerlitz terminus in Paris, a top Railway Board official has said.
“We should be seeing something great coming up at five or six places in the country in next two to three years … This is in line with other stations all over the world. If you go to New York Central or Gare d’Austerlitz where you have top class terminal with facilities like mall,” Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar told PTI.
Kumar said work on the projects would start soon and is likely to be completed within three years.
“Station developments will come up very differently. It is one area which is constantly coming up that station must be the concept of a mall experience. We want to benchmark to global standards,” he said.
These stations would attract passengers and facilitate business, he said.
Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the world’s second largest under one management, running 11,000 trains a day on its about 1,10,000 km tracks.
Kumar said apart from station modernisation, port connectivity was another area of focus for railways with Rs 16,000 crore worth of projects underway.
“We are paying real emphasis to port connectivity. We have had good amount of progress this year. We have given clearance to about seven projects worth Rs 16,000 crore and we can do even more based on the request we get,” he said.
He said FDI has been opened in ten sectors of Railways which covered almost all areas of its working.
“We have displayed our intentions and also identified the projects that can be taken up under FDI and in case industry needs more projects that they would like to fund we would consider that… Anything which improves the movement of passengers, their convenience and has impact on the growth of Indian economy, that we will accord priority,” Kumar said.
FDI assumes significance in the context of high speed trains too, he said adding “the High speed line study is being done on Mumbai to Ahmedabad route… this thing is going to be a game changer. Wherever high speed has come it is not only railway but society as a whole has gone a complete change.”
He said mammoth investments were required in high speed trains as laying of tracks cost Rs 100 crore per km in comparison to Rs 10 crore a km for normal trains.
“Government has made its intentions clear… Delhi Chennai route has been offered to Chinese to study and come back,” he said, adding that it takes about nine to 10 years to flag off such trains.
Indian Railways is the growth engine of Indian economy, he said adding, “So far whatever constraints we have, Indian Railways has never been in the reds. It has always been making profit though we subsidise heavily.”