Passenger waiting rooms at the New Delhi and Hazrat Nizamuddin railway stations have been given a makeover, with the addition of new amenities and fresh interiors.
Upgraded under a public-private partnership (PPP) model, the revamp is an initiative of the Commercial department of Northern Railways’ Delhi division, and has cost over Rs 4 crore for the New Delhi and nearly Rs 2 crore for the Nizamuddin stations.
Railway officials said the waiting rooms earlier had several problems, including overcrowding and lack of facilities.
“AC waiting rooms encountered rampant unauthorised entry and elongated usage by passengers. Overcrowding led to inadequate cooling, and available assets were always stretched to the limit,” A Northern railway official said.
“Non-AC waiting rooms, being largely unmanned, were never preferred. Due to the poor ventilation, lighting and ambience inside, passengers preferred waiting on platforms,” the official added.
The new waiting rooms, both air-conditioned and sleeper, have improved security, in addition to food and beverage counters and staff for guiding passengers.
People using AC waiting rooms would have to pay a charge of Rs 10 per hour per person and Rs 5 for children between the ages of five and 12. Sleeper waiting rooms can be used for free.
These charges have been set for a period of five years under the PPP contract. They would be increased to Rs 20 per hour for adults and Rs 10 per hour for children for AC waiting room if an extension of five years is granted to the contract. Sleeper waiting areas would still be free, officials said.
At the Nizamuddin railway station, Jagruti Kansara, who was travelling with five passengers from Haridwar to Pune and had an eight-hour stopover in Delhi, suggested that the AC waiting room should be free to use for two hours.
“If a private company has made these waiting rooms and wants to charge the public, they can be shifted outside. On the platform, as is our right, the government should allow passengers to use the waiting facility for free for two hours, after which it can be charged,” she said.
Railway officials said the AC rooms have a charge so that the PPP firm is able to recover the money spent on the project. “It was thought that people travelling in AC train compartments can pay Rs 10 per hour extra to use the waiting rooms. We have kept sleeper waiting rooms free of cost after considering that not all passengers may not be comfortable with paying an extra charge,” an official said.
Contract for the upgradation of two waiting rooms at the Old Delhi station has also been awarded, the official said.