THREE station redevelopment projects with an aim to expand train hosting capacity at Pune, Shivajinagar and Hadapsar railway stations have come to a halt for lack of funds. This comes at a time when the Indian Railways administration has been brushing aside demands to start more trains citing “inadequate station capacity”.
According to railway officials with Pune Division, while there is no signal from the Railway Board regarding the redevelopment of Shivajinagar station, which was announced years ago, and Pune station, lack of funds has held up work at Hadapsar.
On Monday, when Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal was asked about delay in the projects, he threw the ball in the Pune Division’s court saying: “officials will be able to talk about local level projects”. For the past six-seven years, Pune is getting a raw deal in getting new trains to important cities across the country as, officials claim, there is no scope to host new trains at Pune station at present. While there are limitations when it comes to increasing the capacity of Pune station, it was proposed that suburban stations like Shivajinagar and Hadapsar could be developed as terminals to host long-distance trains that would not only help those staying close by but also take the burden off the overcrowded Pune station.
Following this, two projects were announced by the Indian Railways. One, announced in May 2013, aimed at redevelopment of Shivajinagar station by adopting a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. It was part of a plan of the railways to exploit its land through the Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) and by involving private players, sources said. Five stations were supposed to be revamped under the scheme — Anand Vihar and Brijvasan in Delhi, Chandigarh railway station, and Habibganj in Bhopal and Shivajinagar.
Another plan involving terminal expansion of Hadapsar station was announced the same year. The project was slated to cost Rs 23.94 crore when it was floated (in 2013). But with delay in execution, the cost of the project has now undergone a revision and it now stands at Rs 38 crore. According to Pune Division officials, so far only Rs 40 lakh has been received from the ministry.
While the projects remain grounded, the railways floated another redevelopment plan in June 2017. This time, it was for the revamp of Pune railway station using the “Swiss Challenge Model” under which 23 railway stations across the country were to be upgraded to provide airport-like facilities to passengers with help of private players, said officials. Following the announcement, several bidders had approached the officials with Earnst and Young, which was appointed as an advisory firm. There has been no development since.
On Monday, minister Goyal held a press conference in New Delhi to share the achievements of the Indian Railways in past four years of the government. He also interacted with mediapersons at 13 other centres, including Pune, via video conferencing.
Asked about the projects, he said: “I won’t be able to comment about the projects. Local railway officers will be able to share information about the status.”
Rail Madad app
While Goyal launched a mobile application called “Rail Madad” (mobile application for desired assistance during travel) — which allows passengers to lodge complaints and aims to integrate all modes of filing complaints,including offline and online modes — there has been no system set up at the divisional level to deal with grievances raised through the app.
Pune Division officials said they had heard the name “Rail Madad” for the first time. They said the commercial department, which handles the grievances raised by passengers, is likely to process the issues raised through “Rail Madad” as well.