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These Railway Stations are taking off

By Ramendra Singh, Paul John, Christin Mathew Philip | Aug 16, 2022

State-Of-The-Art Infra & Airport-Like Facilities For Commuters Are Making These Enviable Firsts In India


Travellators, lounges, neat segregation of arrival and departure… it’s easy to mistake Bhopal’s Kamlapati (erstwhile Habibganj) railway station for an airport. India’s first ‘privatised’ railway station — built on PPP mode — cost Rs 450 crore (Rs 100 crore for the new station and Rs 350 crore for shopping malls, hotels and office complexes) and was completed without suspending operations on this section of the busy Delhi-Chennai trunk route. The result: with separate routes for arriving and departing passengers, there’s no chaos, no shoving and jostling.

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At the heart of this future-ready, world-class station is a 3,024 sqm steel-and-glass concourse, where you can wait in style, sip a cup of coffee or munch on Bhopal’s choicest delicacies. The station is 100% Divyang-friendly and could soon turn into a hangout. The project began in July 2016. Inaugurated by PM Modi on November 15, 2021, the station is already in business and work is on to build a mall and hotel that will be integrated with the complex. It’s expected to be ready in two years.
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India’s first luxury hotel and convention centre to come up on the public-private partnership model is built atop the concourse of the Gandhinagar railway station, minutes from the Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre that hosts the Vibrant Gujarat Summit among other national and international events.

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Operated by the Leela Group, the Rs 780 crore, 318-room hotel rises to 65m (11 floors), its three towers arranged in a triquetra. It is a column-free building, constructed in the economical space frame of 99 metres over a railway platform. Gandhinagar railway station has seven busy tracks.

The Gujarat government has a 74% stake in The Leela, Gandhinagar, while Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation has 26%. A special-purpose vehicle — Gandhinagar Railway and Urban Development Corporation (GARUD) — owns the hotel.

Since operations began on July 17 2021, the concourse-hotel has been catering to a mix of corporate guests at any given time, mainly from companies with units in Kadi, Kalol, Mehsana, and Dehgam and the surrounding Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation estates.

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The hotel project was conceptualised in 2016, with the GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec) City in focus as a fintech hub. “The government has built a hotel on the PPP model with the operator’s specifications. It is like bringing two schools together. We learn from government processes, and they learn the subtleties of our industry from us,” said Anand.

In January 2017, Modi had laid the foundation stone of the project. “I have always wanted railway stations to be of top quality, not only facilitating travel but also boosting commerce and hospitality,” Modi had said ahead of the hotel’s inauguration. “One such effort has been made in Gandhinagar.”

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Inaugurated by PM Modi on June 20, the Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya Terminal in east Bengaluru is Bengaluru’s first airport-like train station, with centralised air-conditioning, state-of-the art waiting halls, including one for women with digital real- time passenger info system, food courts and shops. It sports a façade on the lines of Kempegowda International Airport.

At present, 16 pairs of trains are operational from the Rs 314-crore terminal spanning 5,930sqm but it can accommodate 50 trains a day and a footfall of about 50,000.

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In Bengaluru, this is the third railway coaching terminal (where trains originate/terminate their trips) after KSR Bengaluru City and Yeshwantpur stations. While KSR, which is part of the Mysuru line, has been operational since 1882, Yeshwantpur was built in 1892.

The third terminal at Byappanahalli was sanctioned in 2015- 16 and is expected to help SWR operate more long-distance trains from Bengaluru. It is the first greenfield project in India where Indian railways constructed a world-class terminal. South Western Railway officials said there was no major demand for trains from Bengaluru till late 1990s as most were limited to southern states. Post the IT boom in 2000s, there has been huge demand for more trains especially to the north but tracks/stations in Bengaluru reached almost a saturation point. This has resulted in the need for more terminals to run additional trains.

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The waiting room has USB , laptop charging facilities and TVs. Platforms are connected with a 7.5m wide foot-over bridge and two subways adorned with paintings of Bengaluru landmarks. Water and energy management measures are in place, including a 4-lakh-litre water recycling plant.

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