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India’s concrete makeover to include railway stations

July 18, 2007

Wide concrete roads, snaking flyovers and spanking new buildings are the face of modern India today. In fact everywhere you look there seem to be new hotels coming up, roads being built…and new shops and malls springing up. Airports are being re-furbished, and hundreds and hundreds of new apartment blocks are dotting the landscape. Its like India is having a make-over.

One thing has remained almost frozen in time though…our railway stations. They seem as disorganised as they were 10-20 years ago. Its when I walk through the crowds and the dirt here that I wonder: Will India really make it to the top five of the world’s economies by 2050?

You still see messy, unpainted walls, long slippery staircases, dirty floors and railway tracks and no sign of a decent non-smelly restroom. This inspite of our rail network being so vast, and many of our trains really very good. And considering how inexpensive it is to travel by Indian trains, well I think our trains are pretty fantastic.

However our railway stations need to improve…and they are going to! At least those who live in Pune, Mumbai, Agra, Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi (old and new), Amritsar, Chandigarh, Patna, Varanasi, Chennai, Thiruvanthpuram, Secunderabad, Ahmedabad, Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Mathura, Bangalore, Jaipur and Bhopal have something to celebrate.

All of these stations are to become state-of-the-art they say….with food plazas, currency exchange counters, retail outlets, ATM facilities, elevators, cyber cafes and so on. Separate arrival and departure areas might also be earmarked. And all this is supposed to be done by 2010. Well, at least major stations will be finished by then – the idea is to impress visitors to the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Both private and public sector firms will do the work in a partnership….foreign firms are mostly involved. That the government wants world-class firms to compete for the job and that it has an action plan in place is evident by this advertisement which appeared in the latest issue of The Economist – calling for proposals to develop Patna railway station.

Just New Delhi railway station will cost about Rs.50 billion and doing up all the 20 stations will take around Rs 3 trillion.

So the day is not too far when we will see our railway stations take on a new avatar…can’t help but look forward to that day…

(All pictures taken by me in Mumbai)

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2007 10:22 am

    To be frank I think that we need to make Rail travel more meaningful. I mean, if yo look at the European countries or Japan, rail is more convenient, faster and comfortable. In India it is the opposite. Only when we bring up the standard of the transposition, then we can hike up the prices and use the money for uplifting of the quality of th railway stations. Cleaning and beautifying them for the sake of making them look good, is not a viable economic proposal.

  2. July 18, 2007 10:52 am

    True, our rail travel needs to be improved on all fronts…
    in fact about beautifying I agree with your whole-heartedly, but where cleanliness is concerned, or even facilities like clean inexpensive food, cyber cafes, ATM’s etc, I think these are essential. Today the toilets in the trains are cleaner and I know a lot of people use the train toilets even though they are not traveling. And at times one needs money in an emergency, and well, these conviniences are very important…
    I guess they are going to redesign and redevelop the stations in a holistic manner and make sure that cleanliness is also maintained. For example the present toilets or walls and stairs are so bad even at important stations that unless they are re-done it won’t be possible to keep it clean or in proper shape. The stairs are so slippery, one has to hold on for dear life specially if one has a small child or is carrying baggage. The floors are very difficult to clean, the material they are made of…and so on.

  3. July 18, 2007 11:33 am

    If you have traveled in the trains in last few years then you can notice the changes!! I used to travel 30-40 hours (twice in year) and the toilets were used to get cleaned twice in the those 40 hours. This I would think is much more than people would expect from railways!! yeah the stations need real revamp and face lift, and since the whole country is having a face change so country’s largest employer and highest profit making psu can’t be left behind!!
    In fact the train service is much better in india compared to most of the countries. its cheap, more frequent and readily available to everyone!! keeping it clean is our responsibility too, which most of us tend to ignore. we will also have to change our attitude towards and as lalu says “Stop thinking railways as garib ki bakri”!!!

  4. July 18, 2007 11:34 am

    well i forgot to say nice pics!!! 😀

  5. July 18, 2007 11:37 am

    //since the whole country is having a face change so country’s largest employer and highest profit making psu can’t be left behind!!//
    And thanks for appreciating the pics. 🙂

  6. B Chopra permalink
    July 18, 2007 12:48 pm

    By seeing profit that railway is making I would rate their Developments as “below average”. It’s high profit making psu b’coz it’s still a monopoly business for Govt.

    Public Private partnership is good idea that can catalyse the target developments.

  7. July 18, 2007 5:06 pm

    Heartwarming news – I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Your pics are getting better and better every day! 🙂

  8. vivek mittal permalink
    June 30, 2008 3:03 pm

    Huge construction activity is going on full swing nowadays at New Delhi railway station….and it’s a concrete structure and not a typical steel structure which we indians are used to……but i wonder whether they want to build it on the lines of Delhi Metro stations, which are truly swanky & world class…

  9. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    June 30, 2008 4:07 pm

    On the flip side, we have an increase in noise pollution inside the AC Executive Class in Shatabdi and AC 1st class compartments, and coming up in Rajdhani expresses, with “entertainment” being introduced in the form of cheap [comma] loud [comma] Hindi [comma] filmi [comma] third-rate [comma] popular [comma] least-common-denominator-of-intelligence-and-taste “entertainment” without headphones or volume control devices at the command of individual passengers. I suppose “swanky” and “modern” are synonyms for “loud” and “garish.”

    The hon’ble minister for railways has also recently announced that in sleeper class, the side-berths (along the length of the corridor ) are also going to be made three-tier, making the compartments more slummy.

    On the other hand, nobody seems to have given any thought to how an elderly or disabled person is going to clamber up into the middle and upper berths, and how the poor devil in the upper berth can have an independent source of fresh air and ventilation that [s]he can control.

    Let us by all means have better railway stations, but more than that, let us have trains that are cleaner and more comfortable.

    The most important thing is to drastically limit the number of people coming to see off or receive travellers. It is just not on to have several hundreds of people crowding the platform for one travelling swamiji or political bigwig (yes, the latter do still occasionally condescend to travel by train). Platform tickets must be made prohibitively expensive, and severe punishment, both capital and financial, must be imposed on non-travellers boarding compartments to see off travellers. And for passengers travelling with excess luggage, the rules regarding this must be implemented by the letter, and any luggage obstructing movement spaces in the compartments must be just thrown out of the moving train after it has crossed a speed of 50 kph. I know this will hurt passengers and luggage, but then that is the whole idea.

  10. wishtobeanon permalink
    June 30, 2008 6:48 pm

    A good number of railway stations in Kerala have changed for the better except for the civic sense of people travelling in trains. Most people don’t think twice before throwing away trash through the train windows though trash dispensers are available.

  11. Ravi Koganti permalink
    November 7, 2009 11:58 am

    country like india with great length and huge population.Railways is the only great effective option we have. need to improve efficiency before making any expansion. We still need anti collision systems. web based reservations. online ticket purchase. online train tracking. need lot of techology to put in to make it effecient and then we can expand.

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