India-France Railway Pact: French team visits Ludhiana railway station

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A three-member French team visited the Ludhiana railway station on Saturday as part of the redevelopment agreement signed between India and France last year. The team studied the facilities at the station and will submit its report to the Indian Railways, an official said.

The agreement was signed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France last year. The Indian government sought to establish cooperation between Indian and French Railways for semi-high speed rail and station renovation.

From the region, Ludhiana and Ambala railway stations were selected for redevelopment. The team had surveyed Ambala station on Friday.

The team that visited Ludhiana railway station was from AREP, the consultancy wing of SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français; “National society of French railways”).

Led by Eric Dussiot, director (international), the team met with Anuj Prakash, divisional railways manager Ferozepur division, Northern Railways.

In the initial phase of the project, costing over Rs 3 crore, the French consultants will prepare a detailed project report (DPR) of Ambala and Ludhiana and submit it to the Indian Railways. The cost of this phase is expected to be borne equally by the two governments.

“This was the first of the upcoming multiple visits under the India-France pact signed by PM Modi for redevelopment of selected railway stations and project on upgrading the Delhi-Chandigarh rail line up to 200 kmph. The French team will submit a project report to us and we will check its viability for implementation. Being an industrial hub, Ludhiana has more traffic compared to Ambala railway station,” said Prakash.

Of the ideas discussed on Saturday, thrust was laid on ‘Faster Transit Oriented development’ to make entry/exit faster and easier. Optimal use of railways land, modernisation of platforms with colourful graffiti and social messages on walls, new toilets, separate arrangements for goods trains, separate entry and exit points will be also be included.

“One of the major point we have agreed upon is to build retail shops and a commercial complex in Ludhiana station premises. With large number of business persons commuting daily from the entire country here, they need one-stop shop for work like photostat, post office, courier etc,” he added.

Sources said that French team observed that a large part of the station periphery had been encroached. In its feedback, the team also said that the Ludhiana station needs immediate re-development.

“The French team was of the view that since Ludhiana is handling multi-fold traffic than Ambala on a daily basis, it needs facilities at faster pace (than Ambala),” said Prakash. “It is more viable than Ambala. As Ludhiana station is located in Old City and remains choked due to congestion, we also need to streamline bus, autos and taxis connectivity outside station and de-congest it.”

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