The Indian Railways (IR) has plans to expand and modernise Kolkata and Asansol railway stations to world-class standards, comparable with that of international airports.
The railways also plans redevelopment of Bandel and Jasidih, in Jharkhand, railway stations. It seems that these will be the biggest showcase projects of the railway ministry before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Earlier, the railways had approved the expansion of only Asansol railway station, under the Eastern Railway zone. Jasidih station, which is under the Asansol Division of Eastern Railway, located in the neighbouring state of Jharkhand is a popular destination for pilgrims travelling to Baba Baidynath Dham temple in Deoghar.
Already, the groundwork for Asansol and Kolkata railway stations’ expansion works have started and dedicated specialised officials have been posted.
A high-level meeting took place at Asansol Division on Monday and sources said that very soon the Detail Project Report (DPR) will be completed and submitted for final approval.
Parmanand Sharma, divisional railway manager of Asansol, Mukesh Kumar Meena, ADRM and other departmental heads of the division were present at the meeting.
Top brass of railways officials from New Delhi too joined the meeting through videoconferencing, sources said.
Talking to The Statesman, Ashish Bhardwaj, chief engineer of Eastern Railway, said that the division will supervise the construction work of these projects. “The entire project will be completed within two years after construction work begins. Already the railways have appointed a consultant for the project and the detailed project report will be prepared soon,” he added. It is expected that by August the DPR will be submitted. Already for Kolkata and Asansol, the initial requirement survey has been finished.
Chief engineer (construction), station development, has been posted for the mega projects, said sources. Earlier, a DPR was prepared by Bridge and Roof Constructions of around Rs 750 crore and sent to headquarters for approval of Asansol station.
However, now a fresh DPR will be prepared by the consultant agency.
The Indian Railways have already set up world-class airport-like railway stations in Gandhinagar Capital station in Gujarat and Habibganj station in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Habibganj station, set up at a cost of Rs 450 crore last year, modelled on Heidelberg railway station of Germany. A five star hotel has been set up above the railway tracks in Gandhinagar Capital station.
Already, high-level team led by ADRM Asansol Mukesh Meena, visited and inspected the Habibganj station.
“Besides seamless traffic control, the Asansol station will have world-class passenger amenities like food courts, escalators, refreshment rooms, shops, parking, lighting, decorations etc,” DRM Parmanad Sharma added.
Zonal railways have been entrusted for converting these four mega ‘Railopolis’ projects and the objective is for comfortable and world-class railway travel experience for passengers.
Once set up, these railway stations are likely to operate and run on a PPP model, sources said.
Asansol is the 8th busiest railway station and the annual passenger increase is about 8 to 10 per cent. The station handles about 10,000 passengers and 171 trains per day. The station building is a heritage structure, set up in 1885.