A five-star hotel atop railway tracks, planned retail, food, and entertainment outlets, and an overall airport-like feel, make the redeveloped Gandhinagar railway station in Gujarat like no other in India.
Gandhinagar is all set to emerge as India’s first ‘Railopolis’, following the inauguration of the impressively upgraded railway station and value-added facilities. On July 16, Prime Minister Modi will throw open to the public, the railway station that has entailed investments of Rs 71 crore and a 318-room five-star hotel developed at an outlay of Rs 790 crore.
Modi Tweeted today, “I have always wanted our railway stations to be of top quality, where, apart from travel, there is a boost to commerce, hospitality and more. One such effort has been made in Gandhinagar. The upgraded station will be inaugurated tomorrow.”
Designed to replicate the comfort and aspirational value of airports, the railopolis encompasses a host of features. The three platforms – with ample seating facilities – are connected through subways, elevators, and escalators. Moreover, a concourse is being planned for departing passengers. When the concourse is completed, the capacity of the station will increase from the current 1,500 to 2,200. The station has dedicated entry and exit gates.
Covering the railway station is a 105-metre tall, futuristic column-less, arched space-frame roof which is made of all-weather aluminum sheeting. The structure has been certified ‘green’ for sustainability by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). The external façade of the station delights with its aesthetics too. Its lighting will change every day through a bouquet of 32 available themes. Adding to the sensory satisfaction quotient, is a dedicated art gallery with an LED Wall display lounge.
The Gandhinagar railopolis accords high importance to accessibility for all kinds of passengers. It features a low height ticketing window, apart from lifts, ramps, and dedicated parking areas for the differently abled. A large waiting lounge, an interfaith prayer hall and baby feeding room round off the package.
Five-star hotel and retail establishments
The new railway station at Gandhinagar aims to make passenger comfort and revenue generation mutually complementary objectives. The five-star hotel is a vivid illustration of this thought process. The 7,400 square meter property is a complex of three towers that are each nearly 80 metres tall. The towers have been developed in a triquetra shape symbolising the evocative ‘trinity form’. The hotel is well-placed to host participants for planned events at the adjacent Mahatma Mandir convention centre.
Also in the pipeline is a plan to have retail, food, and entertainment outlets within the railopolis. According to news reports, some reputed players have already evinced interest in setting up shop.
The larger context
In 2016, the Indian Railways announced a Rs 50,000 crore plan to re-develop railway stations into ‘Railopolises’ through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mechanism. The Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) and the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) are nodal agencies for the project, which now encompasses 125 railway stations.
Under this programme, redevelopment of the Gandhinagar station began in 2017 through a joint venture named Gandhinagar Railway and Urban Development (GARUD) between the Government of Gujarat and the IRSDC. The redevelopment project was designed to bolster the credentials of Gandhinagar’s Gujarat International Finance Tech (GIFT) city, which aspires to emerge as a global financial centre in the future.