Railways to renovate 1,000 small stations under Amrit Bharat Station Scheme

The Ministry of Railways, as part of its station redevelopment drive, has formulated a new scheme to modernise over 1,000 small stations over the coming years. Under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme, stations will be equipped with facilities inspired by the mega-upgradation of marquee stations such as New Delhi and Ahmedabad, albeit at a lower cost.

Key features of these proposed stations include provisions for roof top plazas, longer platforms, ballastless tracks, and 5G connectivity. The scheme will subsume all previous redevelopment projects where work is yet to begin.

“The scheme aims at preparation of Master Plans of the Railway stations and implementation of the Master Plan in phases to enhance the facilities including and beyond the Minimum Essential Amenities and aiming for creation of Roof Plazas and city centres at the station in the long run,” the Railway Board said in the policy document.

However, plans and consequent budgets will only be approved on the basis of factors such as footfall and inputs from stakeholders. Zonal railways have been given the responsibility of selecting stations, which will then be approved by a committee of senior railway officials.

The model envisages low-cost redevelopment of stations which can be executed timely. Sources said the separate scheme, focused on small stations, was taken to ensure that modernisation of small stations does not lose steam as the ministry focuses on mega-projects to upgrade New Delhi, Mumbai (CST), and Ahmedabad stations, which will take much longer.

Officials said that while each station will have a customised cost plan, rough estimates peg each station to be developed at Rs 10-20 crore. The ministry hopes to leverage the participation of private telecom operators for 5G connectivity as it recently eased norms related to the installation of mobile towers on railway land. Moreover, all these stations will have free Wi-Fi facility and escalators for easy mobility.

The scheme aims to relocate redundant/old buildings in a cost efficient manner so that space is released for higher priority passenger related activities and future development may be carried out smoothly.

Given that these stations are aimed to be redeveloped in an expedited manner, the railways wants to ensure land acquisition and construction hurdles are steered clear of. “Creation of new buildings should generally be avoided other than those required for relocation of old structures or relocation of structures to improve circulation or provision of structures to improve the size of waiting halls,” the railway board instructed zonal railways.

Rooftop plazas are the national transporter’s attempt to decongest stations. Traditionally, all station amenities have been developed on platforms or outside station premises. The new model borrows from international stations, with an aim to use platforms largely for boarding and deboarding, and separately using these rooftop plazas for modern amenities.

Facilities Planned under Amrit Bharat Station Scheme

  • Provision for Roof Plaza to be created in future

  • Free Wi-Fi, space for 5G mobile towers

  • Smooth access by widening of roads, removal of unwanted structures, properly designed signages, dedicated pedestrian pathways, well planned parking areas, improved lighting etc.

  • High level platforms (760-840 mm) at all stations with a length of 600 metres

  • Special amenities for the disabled

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