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Indian Railway's Station Redevelopment Program to Build World Class Stations

Being the backbone of the country's transport system, the Indian railways is among the world's largest rail networks, while facilities at most stations are not at par with stations at other parts of the world. Keeping this in mind, the government decided to upgrade the infrastructure of the railway stations across the country by providing best services so that they become self-sufficient in carrying out maintenance and development work.

Revitalizing the entire railway network, Indian Railways has taken up the ambitious Station Redevelopment Program through PPP model by leveraging the real estate available at the railway stations. Railway stations and adjoining areas will be redeveloped on Smart City lines for enhancing passenger amenities, easy access to stations, and enabling optimal utilization of railway land. Indian Railways station redevelopment program is not only one of India's largest infrastructure programs but one of the biggest Transit Oriented Development project in the entire world.

With an outlay of more than INR 1 lakh crore, Indian Railways initially plans to redevelop 400 stations across 100 cities with approximately 2,700 acres of encroachment free land available for commercial development in multiple phases. According to consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the global management consulting firm appointed by Indian Railways as Strategic Advisor for the Station Redevelopment Program, the total project cost for the revamp of 400 stations will be around Rs.107,000 crore. Of this, Rs.28,000 crore will be for station redevelopment, Rs.68,000 crore for commercial development and the remaining Rs.11,000 crore would be surplus with the railways following monetization of land.

Indian Railways intends to lease out spare Railways land for a period of up to 45 years to
private entities for commercial development and use the surplus generated to modernize and maintain the railway stations.

The redeveloped stations will provide amenities and services to the passengers in line with best in class railway stations. The expected features of redeveloped railway stations are:

Iconic structure with modern state-of-the-art facilities.
Congestion free non-conflicting entry/exit to the station premises.
Segregation of arrival/departure of passengers- No conflict between incoming and outgoing passengers.
All essential facilities at concourse- catering, small retail, wash rooms, cloak rooms, drinking water, ATM, pharmacy, internet, etc.
Integration with other modes of public/private transport systems e.g. Bus, Metro, etc.
Integrating both sides of the city, i.e. entry/ exit on both sides of the station wherever site conditions permits.
No parcel movement across the length of platforms.
User friendly international signage understandable by all sections of passengers.
Additional facilities like retail, shopping, hospitality, food courts etc.
Medical facilities
Well illuminated circulating area and sufficient provision for drop off, pick up and parking.
Green Buildings, with optimum use of natural ventilation & lighting.

Models employed for station redevelopment
The railway ministry has used a number of models and arrangements for station redevelopment so far including those by IRSDC, by general managers of zonal railways in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode, in cooperation with Ministry of Urban Development (MOUD) in cities with SMART & AMRUT schemes, by Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) and National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC)— through RLDA and public sector units (PSUs) of the ministry of railways, through other ministries, in partnership with state governments, and also through interest shown by foreign governments and firms.

New plan to fast track the program
Dissatisfied with the net results and slackening progress of the station redevelopment program, current Railway Minister has now decided to make the program more market-friendly by extending the lease from 45 years to 99 years. Also, in an unprecedented move, the Railway Board has permitted residential development along with commercial development as part of the redevelopment scheme of railway stations. 

In the new plan, Indian Railways will offer 20 per cent of the overall area redeveloped for residential purposes; the remaining 80 per cent area will be utilised commercially. This would mean developers tying up with IRSDC will have the option to build residential structures within the station premises, which are in prime localities.

Further, the railways have decided to develop major railway stations from its own money after it failed to get a good response, in first phase bidding for 23 stations, from private investors for its Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. To start with, IRSDC will take up 50 stations to be redeveloped on the engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) model and will finish the work within three years from the date of tendering. IRSDC is likely to raise about Rs. 4000 Crores from the markets for the redevelopment of these 50 stations.

Foreign countries shown interest in the program
South Korea, Germany, UK, France, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Canada and Belgium are the nine countries which have shown interest in joining the Indian Railways' ambitious station redevelopment programme across the country. According to official reports, China is keen to develop Jhansi and Agra stations; South Korea has expressed interest in making New Delhi station a world class station; France has agreed to redevelop Ludhiana and Ambala stations on Delhi-Chandigarh route; Canada has shown interest in upgrading a few stations in Mumbai; Malaysia is keen to develop Howrah, Secunderabad, Udaipur, Faridabad, Indore and Pune stations. Boston Consulting Group is preparing the strategy. Ernst & Young is also involved.

This aside, a number of Indian companies have also expressed interest. Habibganj in Bhopal has already been allotted to a consortium of city-based Bansal Construction and Indore-based Prakash Asphalting and Toll Highways (India) Ltd.  Other enthusiastic companies are IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd, GMR Group Infrastructure company, Tata Realty and Infrastructure, Brigade Group, Mantri Developers, Raheja, Shapoorji Pallonji, Reliance Infra, Lanco Infratech and the Essel group. 

First two revamped railway station
While the redevelopment work of Habibganj railway station in Madhya Pradesh will be complete by December 31, 2018, the Gandhinagar Railway station in Gujarat will be revamped by January 2019.

Habibganj Railway Station
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 was 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 will be spent on improving the infrastructure, while the rest of the amount will be spent on building glass structures and facilities for food, entertainment, and the waiting area.

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 charging stations for electric mobility vehicles. The station will have a glass dome-like structure and have facilities such as food plazas and cafeterias and a plush waiting lounge. The station will have a large waiting area comprising over 600 benches with neat and clean toilets and commercial hubs. 

According to the railways, the station is expected to earn around Rs 6.5-7 crore initially, which could increase to Rs 10 crore per annum.

Gandhinagar Railway Station
Gandhinagar capital railway station redevelopment project is a unique one. The railway station will be constructed in a record two-year time after its foundation stone was laid in January 2017. Around Rs 250 crore have been allocated for the redevelopment of the Gandhinagar railway station. The project is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) between the IRSDC and the Gujarat government. 

The revamped station will be unique from a design perspective as it will have a five-star hotel with 300 rooms with three towers over railway tracks making it the first of its kind in the world. The ground floor of the hotel, having three buildings intact together and resembling the shape of petals, will be 22 metres above the ground, while the railway track will pass underneath it. The 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. The parking space will have the facility to house 1000 cars, 200 two-wheelers and 100 auto-rickshaws. Apart from this, the station will have a prayer room, first-aid room, lush-green landscaping and passenger-friendly information sign boards.