Though the railway minister’s budget speech, unlike previous years, did not mention any monetary allocations, train passengers in the Capital can look forward to improved amenities and a world-class station.
DV Sadananda Gowda said at least 10 major stations of the four Metros would be developed to international standards through public-private partnership. “We’re confident the New Delhi station will be on this list. Railway authorities are also working on upgrading the Anand Vihar and Bijwasan stations,” said Anurag Sachan, divisional railway manager (Delhi) of Northern Railway.
This year’s rail budget makes Delhi a part of three high-speed rail routes (see box). Eleven new trains will either originate or pass through the city. The run of five trains has been extended.
But unlike ex-minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who had allocated `100 crore to Delhi stations in the last budget, Gowda made no such allocation despite the Delhi division asking for `50 crore. “We don’t get enough funds for maintenance and safety. We are short of funds for cleaning the station premises,” Sachan said.
“We want private firms to build and maintain toilets. They can earn by using the premises for advertisements. But we have to rush to the Railway Board or divisional headquarters for routine works. There should be delegation of powers,” he said.
The budget speech also indicated better amenities at stations, including WiFi services as well. “We have outsourced cleanliness at our stations but in a limited way. In the last budget, 10 escalators had been sanctioned for the division. We have installed two. We will try to finish installing this year,” said Sachan.
“We have two battery-operated carts at each station to ferry differently abled people. We have also started e-booking facilities for retiring rooms,” he said.
New Delhi station connects major tourist destinations such as Jaipur and Agra and handles 300 trains and five lakh passengers. But it has been facing problems such as congestion and poor hygiene. The talk of its upgradation is not new.
Earlier, before the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the railway ministry had raised big hopes by planning to spend a whopping `12,000 crore in upgrading the station to meet global standards. But this never happened. Delhi’s various land-owning agencies objected to the plan and argued that Connaught Place was already congested and massive commercial development near it will only add to the chaos.