Amid the cool morning breeze, there was a bit of hustle-bustle at the platform, though it was just 5 am. The Vande Bharat Express was about to leave the station “J” for “CSMT” in Mumbai.
“J” is the Railway code for Jalna station, and the formerly Victoria Terminus is now Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT).
Fulfilling the demand of the region, the first Vande Bharat service from Jalna to Mumbai has created a buzz in Marathwada.
As there are plans for many more such superfast trains to be pressed into service in the region, with footfalls expected to increase substantially, Jalna station is being redeveloped into a world-class railway station.
In an effort to align with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of elevating Indian Railways to world-class standards, the Railway Ministry announced the redevelopment of Jalna Railway Station in October 2022.
Jalna station is being redeveloped on a 24,643-square-metre area with the theme centered around the famous Ganapati Mandir.
The station’s facade will be like the Ganapati Mandir, popular in Jalna, so as to uphold the local culture and heritage, according to Project Manager Rahul Jatav.
Jalna station in Nanded division of South Central Railway is being redeveloped in such a way that it will be a city hub in the future with a market complex, budget hotels, and other commercial ventures.
Estimated to cost Rs 284 crore, work is underway at full throttle to transform the station with all modern amenities, along with a pit line for the maintenance of Vande Bharat and other premier trains.
With the future in mind, the station design is approved to meet the anticipated increase in trains and passengers over the next half-decade.
According to the Deputy Chief Engineer of the project, the approved design is meant to take care of the growth in the next 50 years.
To match the world-class infrastructure and facilities, the challenging task would be to ensure that the new station will feature a spacious roof plaza over the tracks.
This plaza will not only house essential passenger amenities but also provide space for retail, cafeterias, recreational facilities, and more.
The roof plaza will be 72 metres in length and 41 metres in width, covering three platforms, and will connect four footover bridges. There will be 13 lifts and 12 escalators for passengers in the new station.
Paving the way to commence the new station building, all utilities are being shifted to the other side.
The challenge is to construct the roof plaza without suspending the train movement, said Site Engineer Prakash.
Currently, 34 trains come to the station. This figure will rise to 79 in the next 50 years, and the passengers number will also increase accordingly.
The revamped station will have separate arrival and departure sections to decongest the traffic.
The station has only one entry, but there will be a second entry from the south side after the completion of the work, said Prakash.
All the offices, including the parcel office, post office, and GRP office, will be shifted to the north side of the station.
The redeveloped Jalna station aims to enhance passenger experience with facilities such as a food court, waiting lounge, children’s play area, and a dedicated space for local products.
“After the launching of Vande Bharat service from Jalna, there was a necessity of a pit line here. So, we are constructing the facility here and it is likely to be operational soon,” the Site Engineer said.
The pit line will be equipped with an automatic coach washing plant for exterior cleaning of coaches with modern technology.
The development of a coach maintenance facility at Jalna will improve the train operations significantly and will also enhance the safety of rolling stock.
He said the pit line will facilitate the operation of passenger train services more effectively. The planned enhanced facilities will help in meeting the expectations of the rail users for a rich travel experience.
The development of Jalna, 60 kilometres from Aurangabad, will not only strengthen rail infrastructure in Marathwada, but will also pave the way for development of various other industries and provide more employment opportunities in the region.
Further, the development of new coach maintenance facilities at Jalna Railway Station will not only facilitate maintenance of trains at the station but also enhance the potential to operate more passenger and parcel trains, thereby strengthening rail connectivity for the people of Marathwada region and also benefiting the freight customers simultaneously.
The Station Master of Jalna is quite excited about the redevelopment work.
“The redeveloped Jalna station will ensure decongestion of crowds and will facilitate smooth working of train operations. The new pit line at Jalna is very important as it will strengthen the rail network in Marathwada region by facilitating introduction of more passenger trains,” he says.
Jalna, the constituency of the Minister of State for Railways, Raosaheb Danve, is a district-headquarter town and is one of the important stations in Marathwada region.
Though it is rocky, terrain blasting is not allowed here, so it was very tough to work on the foundation, said Site Engineer Sunil Ballav. He added that barring just the initial problems of excavation, the process was otherwise smooth.
The entire team of skilled workers on the site is confident to meet the completion target of the project, which is April 2026.