Escalators, lifts to be inaugurated at Kozhikode station on Monday

Kozhikode railway station is turning friendlier with age. On October 7, the station, which completed 125 years and is a colonial landmark of the port city, will welcome passengers with spanking new escalators and lifts.

Used to the weary sight of passengers climbing the stairs criss-crossing its four platforms and narrow entrances and exits, the new infrastructure is an eager step towards the station’s ambition to become a world-class facility.

Minister to inaugurate

The two sets of escalators and three lifts, built at a cost of about Rs.3.75 crore, is scheduled to be formally commissioned by Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy, Union Minister of State for Railways, who is also in charge of the southern States.

“The Kozhikode railway station has a daily footfall of over 50,000 passengers, a large chunk of which are commuters rushing from one point to the other. Besides, the number of train coaches has been increased to 24. All this requires that we ensure easy access to passengers,” Mohan Menon, Additional Divisional Manager, Southern Railways, said on Thursday.

The station falls in the A1 category as annual income from passengers is over Rs.60 crore.

A1-category station

As per the Railway Board guidelines, A1-category stations have to offer passenger amenities for the differently abled and the elderly, such as ramps and escalators, necessarily to elevate them to world-class stations.

Railways have decided to provide such passenger amenities at A-category stations and had identified 300 such stations across the country. More importantly, Mr. Menon said infrastructure was being built in railway stations with an eye on Kerala’s demographic indicators such as an ageing population continuing to travel.

Several demands

The Railways have received several demands to improve the station’s infrastructure, including roofs for the platforms, foot-overbridges connecting the platforms, a south-side entry to the station and an international shopping complex on its premises.

“We have had suggestions from KITCO to take the public private partnership (PPP) route to evolve our stations into world-class facilities. We have also had suggestions to rope in agencies such as the Railway Land Development Agency along with global leaders and take the auction route,” Mr. Menon said.

But on the flipside, both routes would run the risk of private partners demanding their “pound of flesh” by wanting to occupy prime space in the stations.