Railways will now play a big role in the Smart Cities initiative. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the railways and urban development ministries to develop ‘smart stations’ and adjoining areas along railway lines running via smart cities in conjunction with the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC).
Initially, 10 stations — Sarai Rohilla, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Margao, Tirupati and Puducherry — will be redeveloped in a pilot project mode. Under the project, which has been taken up in order to provide better facilties and easy access to passengers, as many as 100 cities will get their smart stations in the first phase.
The project will later be extended to over 500 cities under two schemes—the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, and the Heritage Infrastructure Development and Augmentation Yojana. The ralways and NBCC will also develop residential and commercial spaces around railway stations. “This convergence-based city development will result in qualitative improvement in city life,” said Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for Urban Development, during the signing of the MoU.
To speed up redevelopment of areas adjoining railway stations, joint venture models can be explored. Suresh Prabhu, Minister for Railways, said that his ministry is also considering a plan to redevelop stations in Anand Vihar, Surat, Bijwasan and Gandhinagar and a decision in this regard will be taken in the next few weeks.
Railways is also looking towards other countries for financing of these projects. Countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, Korea, Belgium, France and Japan have shown interest in the project