It is being reconstructed on the lines of Germany’s Heidelberg railway station by the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation, a special purpose vehicle of the railway ministry, along with a private firm, Bansal Pathways Habibganj Private Ltd. “I am satisfied with the pace of works, especially the two subways that have come up, to turn Habibganj station into a model one for the country. The redeveloped station will come up soon,” Goyal told reporters while inspecting the station. “Minister Piyush Goyal expressed satisfaction over the works. He said that all the stations in the country will be developed,” West Central Railway (WCR) Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) Priyanka Dixit told PTI. She said that the railways plan to develop 400 stations into world class ones.
The private firm has started running certain aspects, like upkeep and maintenance, of the station, though train operations continue to be with the railways, the CPRO informed. The firm won the bid to redevelop and maintain the station, originally commissioned in 1979, in 2016, Dixit said.
The company’s station development construction manager Mohammad Abu Asif said that the firm was now looking after parking, catering, cleaning including track washing, maintenance, housekeeping among other operations. “Since March 2016, we are redeveloping Habibganj station into a world class facility on the lines of Germany’s Heidelberg railway station. The IRSDC is the nodal agency of the project,” Asif said. He informed that the project is being carried out in two phases, of which the part dealing with station redevelopment will cost Rs 100 crore.
The station redevelopment phase has a deadline of July 2019 but the plan is to complete it earlier, Asif said. “The station development is primarily aimed at segregating the movement of people inside the premises with the creation of departure and arrival lounges. Passenger entry and exit routes will be segregated with the construction of two subways and a new station building on the west side among other works,” he said.
The second phase deals with commercial development of the station area at an estimated cost of Rs 347 crore, Asif added. This phase will see Habibganj station get a trade centre, an anchor store, service apartment, hospital, budget and luxury hotels and a convention centre which will be built over a 13 lakh square feet area, he said, adding that the land had been leased to the firm for 45 years.
“The Bansal group has been given eight years to complete the commercial development of the station. Profit from the commercial facilities will form return on investment,” Asif explained. Asif said IRSDC also planned to redevelop Chandigarh, Delhi’s Bijwasan and Anand Vihar, as well as Maharashtra’s Shivajinagar (in Pune) on similar lines apart from 23 more stations.
The station redevelopment programme was initiated by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee when she was railway minister. Some initial studies were carried out in 2010. However, it got revived in 2015 when Suresh Prabhu was railway minister. Railways own about 4.76 lakh hectares of land and is the country’s second bigger land-owner after the Defence ministry.