Jammu Railway Station to get Refurbished

Uchit Singhal
Recently, Union Cabinet approved redevelopment projects with an approximate total investment of Rs. 10000 crore for 3 Railway stations namely New Delhi, Ahmedabad and CSMT Mumbai. A success story which began from Habibganj has today made its marks across the Railway map of our nation. Today, roughly around 199 stations across Indian Railway are planned to be redeveloped and Jammu Tawi Railway station is no exception to this. The basic premise behind station redevelopment is to develop self sustainable railway stations in the country with high standards of safety, comfort, user friendly passenger amenities of international standards, value added services and efficiency by adopting the best technological practices, sound financial strategy and optimum utilization of resources. The idea is that entire cost of station redevelopment is to be met by leveraging commercial development of spare railway land/airspace in and around the station. Jammu Tawi railway station which was inaugurated 50 years back is today the largest railway station in J&K. Besides serving the city of temples itself, it is a major railhead for other places in this region and also for tourists heading towards Kashmir valley. It was an irony that such a major station of utmost national as well as tourist importance continues to serve the state of J&K with only 3 Platforms. In this article we will focus on the various aspects and nuances of Jammu station redevelopment project and what it will mean and translate into once it gets commissioned.
Jammu station at present has only 3 Platforms and 3 washing lines for maintenance of coaching rakes which is not sufficient for the station of this stature. Due to this either the trains get detained short of Jammu station outside for want of Platform or the train gets stranded at Platform for want of washing line. Both the conditions are highly unfavourable to smooth train operations and give rise to detentions which affect the ride experience. Furthermore, due to capacity constraints, additional services whether in the form of new trains or coach augmentation is not possible as it will further choke the already congested terminal. Feeling the need to cater to the aspirations of the local populace, remodeling of Jammu coaching terminal was planned in the year 2016-17. Due to multifarious reasons, it could not begin as per schedule. Meanwhile, the station development work was entrusted by IR to RLDA (Rail Land Development Authority) which in turn appointed DIMTS (Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transit System Limited) as its consultant for preparing Technical Feasibility Report, concept plan and Master plan with respect to Station Redevelopment. The objective behind the study was to:
a) Segregation of arrival/departure passenger movements to the extent possible including unobstructed movement of passengers while avoiding cross-circulation within Railway premises.
b) Safe and comfortable passenger amenities/services with maximum possible modern amenities in a clean and pleasing ambience including adequate parking within station premises and efficient multimodal interface of the station with special focus on old, infirm and physically challenged persons.
c) Providing a solution to the shortcomings and problems faced by passengers visiting the Railway station today in accordance with the traffic projections for the next few decades.
d) Adequate and coherent commercial development at and around the station and attainment of the public policy goals based on life-cycle cost minimization approach.
e) Constructing Green Building Project with environment factors being given very high priority.
RLDA proposed to do the above work via PPP mode but looking at the priority and importance of the work, it was decided that it will be completed by the Construction wing of the concerned Zonal Railways. And with this the demand for grant of 2021-22 had a special work mentioned under Plan head – 52 regarding the major upgradation of stations on Indian Railways of which Jammu Railway station was also a part. The detailed estimate as was sanctioned for Jammu station was around Rs 262 crores. The construction wing worked actively with the consultant already working on the project i.e. DIMTS and prepared the requisite drawings, timelines for execution of work and a tender document based on EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction model) was floated in which a Bathinda based construction firm bagged the same for approximately around Rs. 215 crores. The tender for the yard remodeling work which also involves similar financial expenditure has also been floated and is expected to open within next few days. The advantage of EPC model is that detailed specifications are given to the construction company with all the criteria that are to be met with laid out performance specifications and deadlines. Now coming on to the outcome part, Jammu Railway station, post the proposed redevelopment and yard remodeling work, will be a 7-platform station with 5 designated washing lines for maintenance purposes and 4 rake stabling lines. In simple terms, this will translate into additional services to and from this region and reduced detentions short of Jammu Tawi station. Yard capacity will get enhanced which will help with smooth train operations through Jammu Tawi. Apart from above, the proposed plan will meet the long pending demand of second entry to the station and includes within its scope construction of new station buildings on both the old side (A side) and new side (B side). The new entry being on Narwal side of the station will serve as an alternate entry for the passengers coming directly from Udhampur and regions beyond. It being near to bypass and away from the city rush will be a preferred choice for the commuters.
Current station complex having only one side entry gets very congested during the peak times that is early morning when most of trains arrive here and during evening time when most of the departing trains are concentrated. An air concourse which will be 72m wide is also proposed with waiting area and retail shops for the departing passengers. Two new foot over bridges with accompanying lifts and escalators are proposed for the arriving passengers. External development works with respect to development of pedestrian plaza, parking areas, road, greenery, footpaths, drop-off & pickup zones are also planned in the scope of work. The new station building is proposed to be a G+2 complex having dimensions 200X26m dimensions at Aside and 60X20m dimensions at B-side. The certified Green building will be iconic in itself as it has been planned keeping in mind the traffic projections for the next 40-60 years. Segregation of arriving and departing passengers will ensure hassle free movement and clutter free platforms which will have improved surfaces with requisite signages and digital displays for travel related information.
The station redevelopment project has been finalized after intense traffic planning studies of the region. The model is based on traffic demand forecast which in turn is dependent upon 3 variables namely, station passenger demand forecast, traffic generation due to proposed development and normal traffic growth on the city network. For parking area estimation and planning, demand estimation has been done based on traffic flow, time duration studies, travel characteristics and forecasted vehicular growth. The plan is in sync with the road network development plan, city development plan, smart city proposal and metro rail proposal. Studies were also conducted with respect to train arrival and departure pattern, trend of ticket sales at station and composition of reserved/unreserved/ platform passengers.
To summarize, one can only say that the new station building will serve not only as a transport hub but will have potential of developing into a commercial hub of the city which will bring socio-economic development of not just the city area but for the region as a whole.
(The author is an IRTS Officer serving in J&K in Capacity of Station Director Jammu)