Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of 508 railway stations in the country.
The stations are being redeveloped at a cost of Rs 24,470 crore to increase passenger capacity, improve employment generation, and act as city centres.
According to the ministry of railways, the 508 stations are spread across 27 states and union territories, including 55 each in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, 49 in Bihar, 44 in Maharashtra, 37 in West Bengal, 34 in Madhya Pradesh, 32 in Assam, 25 in Odisha, 22 in Punjab, 21 each in Gujarat and Telangana, 20 in Jharkhand, 18 each in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, 15 in Haryana and 13 in Karnataka, among others.
The redevelopment will provide modern passenger amenities along with ensuring well-designed traffic circulation, inter-modal integration and signage for the guidance of passengers.
The design of the station buildings will be inspired by local culture, heritage and architecture, the ministry of railways said.
“With time, railway stations have become the heart of cities. That’s why it’s important that railway stations are modernised and the area is utilised in an optimum manner,” Modi said.
The redevelopment is being undertaken under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme, which was conceptualised earlier this year with a target to modernise over 1,300 stations.
Union minister of railways Ashwini Vaishnaw said the aspiration is to provide every citizen world class rail services and “dignity of travel”.
Infra pitch before 2024 elections
With the government in its final year before 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Modi also pointed to the increased infrastructure spending and execution.
“India has laid down more rail tracks than the entire rail networks of countries like South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia in the previous year alone,” the Prime Minister said.
“Locomotive production has increased by nine times under our administration, while LHB coach production has increased by five times,” he said.
Owing to the partial commissioning of the eastern and western dedicated freight corridors, Modi said that travel time for cargo trains on many routes has come down by 40 per cent, while movement of goods from the national capital region to Western Ports has come down to 24 hours from 72 hours earlier.
“In a few years, all trains in India will run on electricity,” Modi said about railways' 100 per cent electrification target, which the Centre aims to achieve by the end of the current financial year.
Over 1,200 stations are currently being powered through solar power. All Amrit Bharat stations will be redeveloped on the principles of green growth as well, Modi said.
Attack on Opposition
Modi also launched a scathing attack on the Opposition, talking about August 9 as the inception of the Quit India movement during India's freedom struggle.
“Today, the country’s message to every evil is — quit India. Corruption, quit India! Dynasty, quit India! Appeasement, quit India!” Modi said.
Earlier in his address, he also said that many elements of the Opposition are against celebration of infrastructure creation in the country.