Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday inaugurated a Rs 3.5-crore conservation project for the restoration of the 166-year-old Byculla station — one of the oldest and busiest suburban stations on the Central Railway.
The station, which predates the iconic Victoria Terminus or the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), is one of the five stations on the city’s heritage list, besides CSMT, Churchgate, Bandra and Reay Road.
City-based NGO ‘I Love Mumbai’, led by BJP leader Shaina NC, had last year signed an memorandum of understanding with the Central Railway (CR) for restoration of heritage and beautification of Byculla station. The NGO will embark on restoration work in association with conservation architect Abha Lambah.
In March, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) had given its nod for the proposal to restore the station.
The station’s platform, originally made out of wood, was re-built into its present form in 1891.
A senior railway official said the restoration work includes removal of insensitive and ad hoc additions on the facade, removal of paint from the stone facade, cleaning of stained masonry, restoration of damaged doors and windows, removal and upgradation of haphazard criss-crossing telephone and electrical wiring.
“Such efforts can often take years as we want to do the best possible job on these structures, but I am to hear that we shall see significant progress soon and shall hopefully be here at another event before the year ends to inaugurate the new and restored Byculla station,” Goyal said.
According to officials, on April 16, 1853, the first-ever train departed from the erstwhile Bombay’s Victoria Terminus in Bori Bunder towards Thana (today’s Thane) in what is the country’s oldest rail line. One of the original halts for the train was Byculla. “Byculla station has always stood out for me for its old-world charm, iron grills and high ceilings. I am really glad for all the support I have received from the Railway Ministry and really pleased to be able to take on this project. I am excited for the public to see the station once it is fully restored,” BJP leader Shaina NC said.
Under the project the walls, grills and FoBs, benches and heritage wing-roof will be restored and upgraded, sources said. The station is also likely to get parking facility is on both sides if approved by the railways.