Sunday, June 07, 2009

Rly's world class station project receives a jolt

PATNA: The railway's most ambitious project to build 26 world class stations across the country has received a jolt. Prospective investors are not showing who have reportedly backtracked for one reason or another.

The railways are keen to build New Delhi as the first world class station before the start of the Commonwealth Games in 2010. But because of reluctance of private investors, the progress of the project is slow, a Railway Board official said.

According to him, 26 private investors were shortlisted for this dream project under the Railway Vision-2010. The railways wanted to build the structure and design of each "dream station" on the pattern of the New Delhi station. "But, if the pace of the on-going work is any indication, it is unlikely that the New Delhi project will be completed in time," he said.

According to divisional railway manager (DRM), Delhi division, B D Garg, the pace of work has been slow for the reasons unknown. It is not clear whether it would be completed before the start of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, he said.

Sources said the railways wanted to make zero investment in this ambitious project. Its only commitment is space for building world class stations as per the designs approved by its technical experts. It is believed that each proposed world class station is likely to cost between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 crore, the sources said.

Technical experts said the railways had conceptualized the priorities for each world class station to be built phasewise across the country. Though the concept of world class station will be slightly different from the existing ones abroad given that the Indian Railways prefer earning from station premises. The old concept of railway stations from where trains either originate or terminate, has changed now. These stations have become the centres of commerce and business yielding revenue
for railways, they said.

Sources said the Patna Junction, which has become a model station of Indian Railways, was also to be developed as a world class station by 2015-2020. The railways intend to build a subway linking both the south and north-end circulating area of the station with a view to segregating the pedestrians from the general rush of passengers. This facility will provide a smooth passage to railway parcel also at Patna Junction, sources said adding the way this project is being treated now, it is unlikely to be completed under the Vision 2020.

Sources said with Mamata Banerjee taking charge as the new railway minister, the fate of this project announced by former railway minister Lalu Prasad would now depend on her priorities which would be known in the regular railway budget to be presented by her next month.