Gandhinagar is first of 125 railway stations that got redeveloped

“The Gandhinagar railway station redevelopment project was taken up to compliment structures such as Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre, which has been hosting big events like Vibrant Gujarat.

The newly-built Gandhinagar railway station, which will be virtually inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, will be five times bigger than its predecessor and is the first of the 125 stations on the Indian Railways network to be redeveloped.

Colourful paintings of Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium, bullet train and sea plane adorn the entrance of the redeveloped station that is spread over 26,000 square metres. Located just 50 metres away from the old railway station, the new one stands on perfect alignmnet with Dandi Kutir (a modern museum on Mahatma Gandhi shaped like a mound of salt) and the Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre, structures that were built under the guidance of PM Modi.

Three towers of a five-star hotel stand tall 22.5 metres from the station. “The Government of India is undertaking the redevelopment of 125 railway stations across the country. Gandhinagar is the first redeveloped station in the country,” said Sanjeev Kumar Lohia, MD and CEO of Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC).

“The Gandhinagar railway station redevelopment project was taken up to compliment structures such as Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre, which has been hosting big events like Vibrant Gujarat. It was his (PM’s) vision to build a a hotel to compliment the convention centre. This would help dignitaries and guests staying at the hotel to easily reach Mahatma Mandir. Moreover, the hotel is just 30 minutes away from the airport,” he said during a special tour of the project organised for media persons on Wednesday.

There are several things that are happening for the first time in the Indian Railways, Lohia said, adding, “Apart from the unique hotel on top of the railway station, the facade lighting at the entrance and the use of the entire concrete structure to depict the art and culture of Gujarat is new attempt to infuse life and colour into our stations. The arrival and departures have been segregated. Subways connect the platforms and a concourse exists that can be used for commercial purposes. The entire structure has been built as per the green building norms,” he added.

Initially, the newly-built Gandhinagar railway station will be connected by seven pairs of passenger trains, including the new Gandhinagar-Varanasi superfast express and Gandhinagar-Varetha MEMU (Mainline Electric Multiple Unit) that PM Modi will virtually flag off on Friday. While Varanasi is the Lok Sabha constituency of Modi, the MEMU will connect Gujarat’s capital to his birthplace, Vadnagar.

The new station will have three platforms, which can be extended to five. Two subways interlink these platforms. “The old platforms that were 525 metres long have now been extended to 650 metres, as per the existing train length,” Lohia said. A 10,000-square metre concourse located above the railway station can also act as an overhead connectivity for platforms.

The old railway station of Gandhinagar continues to exist at one end of platform number one. According to railway officials, this station can be used as a passenger exit when traffic increases.

The five-star hotel — Leela Gandhinagar — that occupies the airspace above the railway tracks of the railway station, has two exclusive curved ramps that are 750 metres long and provide entry and exits points towards Vavol village behind the station. The 318-room hotel is insulated against vibration and noise from the railway station.

According to government sources, an estimated Rs 790 crore is being spent on this project by Gandhinagar Railway and Urban Development Corporation (GARUD), a joint venture of Gujarat government and Ministry of Railways, acting through IRSDC. Of the amount spent, just nine per cent or Rs 71.5 crore is spent on redeveloping the railway station, while the rest has been spent on the hotel.

GARUD, where the state government holds a 74 per cent equity, has signed an agreement to lease out the hotel to M/s Hotel Leela Ventures Ltd (now Schloss HMA Pvt Ltd) for 30 years, officials said. The Indian Express has already reported that the the cost of redeveloping the railway station and building a five-star hotel has escalated by 208 per cent in three years till 2020.

The project, for which Modi conducted the ‘Bhoomi Poojan’ ceremony in 2017, was scheduled to be completed by January 2019. According to state government officials, only 98 percent of the work on the project has been completed so far.

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