Chandigarh Railway Station is one of the 50 railway stations, which have been selected by the government, to be transformed into ‘world-class railway stations’. Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC), constituted in 2013, is the regulatory authority for the project and according to the Indian Railways, the construction work for the same will be completed by 2022. A Ludhiana-based construction company, Deepak Builders and Engineers, was hired for the re-development work, worth Rs 137 crore, for the area around Chandigarh Railway Station.
What is the World Class Railway Station
The term refers to the re-development of selective railway stations on the pattern of concourses modelled on airport-like retail spaces. Under this model, the selected railway stations are developed in two categories, first, inner station area development and second, commercial development. Chandigarh Railway Station, which was set up in 1954, was selected for the World Class Railway Station during the tenure of Ex-MP from Chandigarh and former Union Railway Minister, Pawan Kumar Bansal. In one of the first moves towards making the station world-class, its construction contract for inner development was given to a Ludhiana-based construction firm.
New features of the World Class Railway Station
Under the initiative, reconstruction and development of Railway Station Area and commercial development of the area outside the railway station towards Panchkula will be undertaken. Inside the railway station, the six existing platforms will be redesigned. Every platform will be interlinked through subways and escalators will also be installed. An ‘air-concourse’, on the lines of airport terminals, will also be developed for all six platforms with facilities such as a VIP waiting room, coffee house and ATM machines. The subways will be designed to segregate passenger flow and prevent chaos at the station. Whereas the commercial development will include the construction of hotels, shopping malls and restaurants, etc. Around 10-acre land towards Panchkula was identified for commercial development. The bidding process for the project is going on and so far, seven firms have shown interest to put their stake in commercial development with the condition of 99 year lease period.
Impact on Chandigarh’s economy
Chairman of Chandigarh-CIl, Saravjeet Singh Virk said, “This will boost the Chandigarh economy. The commercial development of Chandigarh Railway Station with the construction of restaurants and hotels, among other facilities will generate employment. However, it also largely depends on the rail connectivity between Chandigarh and other metro cities. Tejas Express between Chandigarh and Delhi is about to start. Once it starts, you will see the change. It will attract investment. Along with Chandigarh, cities like Mohali and Panchkula will also benefit from it.” Currently, as many as 82 trains operate from Chandigarh Railway Station every day. Three Shatabdi Express trains operate between Delhi and Chandigarh everyday.
Benefits for the common man
The world class station will be more equipped to tackle heavy rush. Moreover, with the improvement in the infrastructure, connectivity and frequency of trains from from Chandigarh will increase. The construction of new parking lots, waiting rooms, ticket counters, washrooms, canteens, mobile charging stations will also benefit the common passengers.
IRSDC Chief General Manager Balbir Singh said, “By estimates, round-the-clock construction work is required for completing the uphill task of renovating and constructing new things at Chandigarh Railway Station within two years. In the MoU signed between IRSDC and the construction company, there are provisions of penalties if the work is not completed within two years. The commercial development will be on the pattern of Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. Earlier, no company was coming forward due to the 45-years lease period. We have enhanced the period to 99 years now. Seven companies are in the competition.” Officers have not ruled out the possibility of inconveniences to the public due to the upcoming heavy construction work.
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