Free Press Journal

Bhopal gets India’s first world-class railway station 


Kalyan Das takes a look into the ambitious project wherein Habibganj will be transformed into a model rail station

The Habibganj railway station which is among the two railway stations that Bhopal has, would soon have a glittery and glitzy transformation by becoming the first world-class station in the country under an ambitious project of the Indian Railways. The mammoth transformation of Habibganj into a world-class railway station would add another feather to its hat after becoming the first ISO certified railway station in India.

The Indian Railway has decided to develop 400 stations across India as world-class stations and Habibganj has been given the pole position in this regard. The Railways launched the roject of developing it as the first world-class railway station of India in July 2016. Aiming to provide world-class facilities to the passengers visiting Habibganj station and generate revenue the Indian railways launched the Rs450-crore project under a public-private-partnership (PPP) model. To implement the project, it awarded the prized contract to Bansal Group which formed a new company along with Prakash Asphalting and Toll Highways named Bansal Pathways Habibagnj Private Ltd to work on the project.

“The whole design of the station is inspired from Berlin Hauptbahnhof which is the mail railways station of Berlin in Germany. The main entrance near platform number one would be a glass dome like structure. After getting fully developed, Habibganj railway station would hopefully serve an example for all the other stations which are going to be developed as world-class stations on the similar tracks,” said project head Abu Asif while speaking to Free Press about the ambitious project adding that the new station complex would boast of restaurants, shopping centres, hospital, spas, convention centre and other facilities which one can avail in airports.

He told FPJ that the prime focus of the whole project is to ease the entry and exit of the passengers in the ISO certified station. “The pivot of the project would be to segregate the way of entry and exit of the passengers to avoid congestion in the station premises. The passengers de-boarding the trains at the stations would be taking escalators towards a subway which would lead them to the exit point of the station. While, the passengers entering the station to board their trains would enter from either platform number one or five with the help of escalators. There would be a high-class fully air-conditioned waiting lounge in the station complex where the passengers waiting for their trains to arrive can rest,” he added.

Asif further said that the soon to be developed facility would be a completely covered one. “The project which is being developed under the design-finance-build-operate-transfer model will comprise the new station fully covered from end to end to avoid any problems to the passengers irrespective of any weather conditions. Except the train operations and ticketing, all the other operation which include maintenance, parking, advertising, catering etc would be looked after by the developing group.

The Rs 450 cr project is divided into two segments, Rs 100 cr for station facility while the remaining Rs 350 cr would be for the commercial facility. The station facility would be developed withing next three years while the commercial facility comprising shopping centres, restaurants, spas and others would be developed in the next eight years,” said Asif. “Under the project the developer would get about 13 lakh hectares of land near the station on a lease of 45 years on which thecommercial facility would be developed. As it would be a huge investment from the developer, it will earn profit from the commercial facilities as return on investment (ROI). This project would surely lead as a magnificent example for the other station on how a world-class station should be developed,” added Asif.

The residents of Bhopal are also visibly happy as Habibganj is the first station in the country to be developed as world-class station. “Habibganj station is already known for various things like cleanliness, catering. It already has the privilege of becoming the first ISO certified railway station of India and after being transformed in a world-class station, it would not only become a jewel of the railways scenario in Bhopal but the whole state. It would definitely become one of the main attractions for the people coming to the capital city,” said Kamal Nagar, a resident of Bhopal.

The officials of west central railways under which Habibganj railway station falls are also very sure that the world-class station would enhance the name of WCR.

“It is obviously a matter of great prestige that Habibganj railway station was chosen to be the first station to be developed as world-class station with top-class facilities to passengers comparable to none but airports. Habibganj had earlier put the name of WCR prominently on Indian Railways map and this project would only concrete its reputation further,” said public relation officer, WCR, I Siddiqui.