With the Centre advancing the deadline of the bullet train project by a year and plans underway to run the first commercial bullet train service by opening one section between Surat and Billimora by 2022, work on the Gujarat section of the project has been fast-tracked.
Earlier this week, the design of the new Vadodara station themed around the banyan tree or vad ka ped from which the city gets its name — was finalised. To be opened by the end of 2022, the three-level Vadodara station, which is part of the bullet train corridor, will replace the existing structure and will include a passenger reservation office, a supervisor office, a government railway police facility and other installations.
The integrated building will have a separate entrance for Indian Railways passengers while bullet train patrons will take the train from level 1. The station building will also host the longest iron girder bridge of the bullet train corridor measuring 220 metres, longer than any girder even in Japan’s Shinkansen system.
The design philosophy of the stations is “high-tech, modern, with a local flavour” said an official from the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd architecture team, which has teamed up with the Japanese team to develop these designs.
The designs are being made by NHSRCL chief architect Kamini Sharma and her team of three other architects. They are collaborating with a Japanese team of architect Higuchi and his team.
While a 50-km stretch is expected to start by August 2022, the rest of the 508-km stretch is likely to start by 2023 – the earlier schedule.
The NHSRCL is working with the team of Japanese engineers to adhere to the advanced deadline. They also plan to inaugurate the first train on this section and open it to the public while it is used for trials, testing and to practice running the Japanese transport system.
Last year, the government had advanced the deadline to 2022 to coincide with 75 years of Independence. The NHSRCL is working to run the first service by then. “We are working with the Japanese team and we will be adhering to the deadline of the project,” Dhananjay Kumar, spokesman, NHSRCL, told The Indian Express Friday.
While the Vadodara station will be modelled around the banyan tree, the Sabarmati station, which is also expected to be a novel multi-model hub of not just the bullet train but railways, bus rapid transit and the Ahmedabad Metro, will carry the theme of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March. A birds-eye view of the terrace even shows solar panels in the design of the charkha.
The Surat station building, for which the design is being finalised, will carry the theme of Surat’s signature commodity, diamonds. Every station of the bullet train project carries the theme of the city it is in, as per the design philosophy decided by the NHSRCL.
But it is not always easy to decide the local flavour design element. For the Anand station, Gujarat’s dairy capital, large white drops to signify milk are being incorporated with vertical louvers while for Billimora, famous for its orchards, trees are the central theme.
In Mumbai, whose station is underground in the Bandra Kurla Complex, the interior will carry design impressions that convey the spirit of the city.
“We want to create stations that are modern and high-tech because that’s what high speed is all about, but at the same time there will be a strong element of local Indian flavour in each of the 12 stations. People should feel welcome and encouraged to enter the stations and check out India’s new transport system, that’s the design philosophy,” said Kumar.