After introducing Tejas Express that offers aircraft-like features, Indian Railways is set to open to passengers the revamped Habibganj and Gandhinagar railway stations that will be the first two “world-class”, “airport-like” railway stations in India! Indian Railways, the lifeline of the country, is often criticised for complex and time-taking projects. But in this case, IRSDC (Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation) is putting in all efforts to complete the station development projects in Madhya Pradesh’s Habibganj and Gujarat’s Gandhinagar by January 2019. IRSDC, a JV between IRCON (a government of India undertaking) and RLDA a statutory authority under the Ministry of Railways, is responsible for these big projects that aim at revamping railway stations into world-class transit hubs. In an interaction, IRSDC MD and CEO SK Lohia, has said that while Habibganj railway station redevelopment work will be complete by December 31, 2018, Gandhinagar station revamp will be done by January 9, 2019. According to Lohia, the idea behind station redevelopment projects is to get passengers to enjoy a good comfortable ambience at the concourse.
The entire responsibility of maintenance and revenue generation of these stations lies with IRSDC. “We have to make sure that these railway stations are revenue surplus and to the extent that this revenue can be used to invest back in the maintenance and development of the station,” Lohia told Financial Express Online. Elaborating on the same, Lohia said, “Even as we redevelop the station, our maintenance cost has gone down. Once the station is fully ready it will go up and we expect it to be in the range of Rs 4-5 crore for Habibganj. The estimated revenue is anywhere between Rs 6.5 to 7 crore per annum. We plan to increase this to more than Rs 10 crore per annum.”
Habibganj railway station will become the first in the country to be redeveloped under the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) model. An agreement for the same has been signed between IRSDC and the Bansal Group. The entire Habibganj Station redevelopment project is likely to be a Rs 450 crore project, of which Rs 100 crore would be spent on station redevelopment and Rs 350 crore on commercial development.
The Habibganj railway station will offer “airport-like” end-to-end comfort to passengers. “There will be additional waiting benches, clean toilets, retail areas and we are exploring other ideas such as video-game zones, virtual museums etc,” Lohia said. The Habibganj railway station will be a “green building” with LED lighting and waste water will be treated for reuse. There will also be bike-sharing terminals and in th future if electric mobility vehicles usage picks up, then charging stations for them, Lohia added. The new-look Habibganj railway station will boast of a glass dome-like structure and have facilities such as food plazas and cafeterias and a plush waiting lounge. The plan is to ultimately develop it into a multi-modal transport hub with connectivity to the city metro. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal recently reviewed the progress of the Habibganj project.
Gandhinagar Capital railway station redevelopment project is a unique one. It’s foundation stone was laid in January 2017 and as stated above, the work on the ambitious project will be complete in record two years time. According to Lohia, 42% of the civil work has been done. “By January 2019, the entire project will be complete, because the Vibrant Gujarat Summit has to be held. Work in going on 24*7 to meet the deadlines and I am confident we will be able to deliver,” Lohia said. The Rs 250 crore redevelopment project is a SPV between IRSDC and the Gujarat state government. The revamped station will be unique from a design perspective as it will have a 5-star hotel with 300-rooms on top of it! The hotel will also be ready by January 2019, and will be a convenient option for Vibrant Gujarat guests and eventually tourists. The ground floor of the hotel will be 22 metres above the ground! The hotel will have three buildings, combined to give the shape of petals. The Gandhinagar Capital railway station will have a dedicated transit hall and over 600 seats for passenger convenience. The transit area will have shops, kiosks, book stalls, food stalls and modular clean toilets.
In total Indian Railways has identified as many as 794 railway stations for redevelopment and revamp and plans are in works to finalise tenders for some of them. Even as Habibganj and Gandhinagar stations redevelopment progresses, the designs for stations like Surat, Gwalior to name a few are ready.