KOCHI: Ernakulam Junction, the focal point of Kochi’s rail connectivity, has been ailing with limited space and amenities for a while now. A long-pending redevelopment project by the Indian Railways is now in motion, with an aim to give the facility a facelift. The multi-crore project will upgrade the station to airport-like standards
Much to the pleasure of Kochiites, a redevelopment project is now in motion to transform Ernakulam Junction Railway station to match international standards. The project is being mooted at an estimated cost of Rs 229 crore and is expected to be completed in three years. Apart from improving the existing facilities, the proposal aims to build highrises that will house commercial establishments.
Plans are also under way to extend three short platforms that will manage trains with 24 compartments. Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) has invited requests for quotation (RFQ) for the public-private partnership (PPP) project to finalise the private players. RFQ submission will close on February 22. The agency plans to commence construction by mid-2021.
Earlier, Thiruvananthapuram Division of the Southern Railway had handed over the entire station area to RLDA for redevelopment. “The agency has already commenced the process to finalise the private partner. Though RLDA has chalked out the project plan, the private player will have to design the proposed commercial complex and hotel buildings and shell out funds.
Expenses for the commercial complex and hotel are not included in the estimate,” said an official. The private player will receive the entire land on lease for a fixed period and will be able to develop the remaining parcels of lands according to their plan under the supervision of the Railways.
RLDA is a statutory authority under Indian Railways to carry out development of stations and commercial development of vacant land parcels near railway stations. KITCO prepared the preliminary report for the agency by charting passenger amenities, dedicated parking space, integration of multi-mode transport like connectivity to metro and other commercial ventures in the station premises.
- Transforming the station into a world-class transportation hub with excellent passenger amenities incorporating transport systems like buses, taxis, auto-rickshaws etc.
- Airport-like passenger concourse and circulation areas — departures entry hall, arrivals exit hall, baggage security check-in area and enquiry centre.
- Disabled-friendly design with access to ramps, lifts and tactile flooring with international signages comprehensible for all passengers.
- Seamless flow of passengers regardless of weather conditions and dedicated, well-illuminated pick-up and drop-off points for commuters.
- A skywalk to the Ernakulam South Metro station and a covered pedestrian walkway from KSRTC bus stand.
- Green building plan with sustainable and energy-efficient design, maximum use of natural light and ventilation, rainwater harvesting, solar energy generation etc.
- Increased volumes and operational areas like administrative blocks, miscellaneous technical areas, security and station operation staff blocks.
- Additional facilities like retail shops, hospitality section, food court, cloakroom, dormitories and executive lounges.
- Development of air space and land parcels into commercial spaces with basements including parking requirements for revenue generation.
Despite the dilapidated condition of the station, passengers are doubtful of the Railways’ move to develop the Ernakulam Junction railway station through a PPP model. “We fear that privatisation would result in a hike in prices to avail the basic amenities offered at the station. Though the expansion of platforms would help long-distance travellers, we don’t think the move would make any favourable difference to regular passengers. Despite relaxing the Covid restrictions, the Railways hasn’t eased ticketing hurdles or addressed issues that affect daily commuters,” said Liyons J, secretary of Friends On Rails, a collective of rail passengers in the state.