New-look, grand railway junction stations itself in heart of Gandhinagar
Capital railway station inaugurated in Gujarat
When Vanrajba Chauhan, 39, left for a yoga camp in Haridwar about a month ago, she observed something unusual at the Gandhinagar Capital Railway Station — in several parts of the station premises, construction workers outnumbered passengers. Despite Covid-induced restrictions, it appeared unusual. “We knew they were making some changes, but were not expecting this,” she says.
There are no “some changes”. The remodelled Gandhinagar Capital Railway Station, which was flagged off on Friday, is now one of the three back-to-back standout structures right at the heart of the Gujarat capital. Sitting atop the station is a towering five-star hotel, adjacent to a tall salt mound called ‘Dandi Kutir’, which is right next to the Gujarat government’s largest convention centre, ‘Mahatma Mandir’. Some locals were spotted clicking selfies outside the station, and one won’t be surprised if that number spikes in the coming days.
But for some, like Vanrajba — a Gandhinagar resident — it’s all too resplendent for the moment. “It took me several minutes to find my way through the new subway connecting platforms 1 and 2... When I left for Haridwar, there were a lot of construction workers and we had to use the old station entrance. I didn’t know it (the new station) was being inaugurated today (Friday). But I wish they had retained the foot over bridge as well,” she says, adding her family had to walk quite a bit to cross platforms.
The foot over bridge on the north end of the station, close to the erstwhile ticketing office, has now been dismantled. The erstwhile ticketing office is being turned into a storeroom even as the office moves to a new and bigger entrance to the station and platform 1.
“The number of weekly trains and ticketing windows has also been expanded. It is a great sight to work from here,” says one of the ticketing personnel.
From four, the number of weekly trains from the redeveloped stations is now 10, including outward and return journeys. Among the new trains on Friday was the decorated Gandhinagar Capitalvaranasi Superfast Express that awaited a flag-off from Prime Minster Narendra Modi. However, according to station personnel, it is state government that flags off the first train from a new/remodelled station. This meant that the new train did not find enough passengers to Varanasi from Gandhinagar Capital, leading to officials of the civic body and state government departments, and even dairy cooperative members boarding the train. “It is definitely fun to be travelling from the redeveloped station in a new train. But this is a waste of a day’s work for us as we will have to alight at Vadodara and return to Ahmedabad soon,” said an Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) official.
The 99-metre column-free platform roof is one of the longest such span in Indian platforms. The span comprises 120 kg per square metre of steel only with weather-proof seamless aluminium sheets. Standing right in the middle of the span is the 318-room hotel that will be managed by the Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts and be known as ‘Leela Gandhinagar’. “There are three ways to get into the hotel. One from the main entrance of the redeveloped station, second from the west side of the station, and third from the second platform,” says deputy station manager Sushil Kumar Karn, pointing to the stairs that lead to an under-construction area. Station personnel said the area is going to be turned into ‘city centre rail mall’.
Meanwhile, despite a relatively tiring experience of walking across subways on a day when not a single porter was in sight, Vanrajba is willing to return in the evening. “I am told the station will be lit up after dark with daily changeable themebased lighting. I am glad there are more tourist places coming up in my otherwise bureaucratic city,” says Chauhan.
Is the remodelled station Gandhinagar’s CST? Ask a local, he wouldn’t just dismiss such a comparison as a hyperbole.