Going by the traffic projections of the Railways, the Ram mandir is likely to transform the Ayodhya town into a pilgrimage centre as big as Varanasi or Prayagraj.
Officials in the Lucknow Division of Railways said the footfall in Ayodhya station is estimated to jump at least 12 times from the present 5,000 per day after the Ram temple is opened to the public, bringing it on a par with Varanasi and Prayagraj.
Along with Ayodhya, the nearby Faizabad station will bear the increased load and Ayodhya will become a local rail hub, as per the plan of infrastructure augmentation being executed.
After the November 2019 verdict on the Ram temple dispute, the plan for a second phase of station development in a greenfield project has been conceived on the south side of the Ayodhya station with a 50-year perspective.
The Railways, which has sought land from the Uttar Pradesh government for development of around 1 lakh sq m of additional space, wants to create a new station on a par with the large stations in India. The concept of the greenfield project has amenities like sojourn for pilgrims etc.
This is in addition to the ongoing first phase of the redevelopment of the existing station. The Railways on Sunday released pictures of the redeveloped station’s design. The redevelopment will be complete by June 2021 and is estimated to cost Rs 104 crore.
“We expect passenger traffic to grow significantly in Ayodhya in the coming years. Along with redevelopment of the station, we have undertaken massive infrastructure augmentation there that will result in more trains to and from Ayodhya,” Rajiv Chaudhry, General Manager, Northern Railway, told The Indian Express.
Officials said plans were expedited after the Supreme Court verdict. It is expected that the pilgrimage circuit of Ayodhya along with Bharat Kund, Shrigvraverpur — a spot near Prayagraj where Lord Ram is believed to have taken a boat to cross the river on his way to South India — and Chitrakoot Dham will attract a huge flow of pilgrims.
To cater to this, small stations there, like Acharya Narendra Dev Nagar and Ramghat Halt, will be included in the larger plan to distribute the traffic load, turning Ayodhya into a rail hub. “The traffic load of Prayagraj is served by not just the main station but by several satellite stations as well. We expect the traffic here to be more than Prayagraj,” said a senior divisional official.
Presently Ayodhya is on alternate route between Lucknow and Varanasi and is single line from Barabanki to Zafrabad (238 km).