Taking the train in India is getting smarter — for some commuters

Indian Railways is undertaking a smart city makeover for its stations in 10 cities around the country.

As reported by Indian gadget news site BGR, the railroad recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Urban Development. The MOU will see the transformation of stations in 10 cities to further the agenda of the nation’s smart city strategy.

India previously announced plans to develop 100 smart cities around the country by 2022. By last month 60 of the cities have been chosen under the ambitious plan that the government hopes will act as a springboard to modernize outdated urban infrastructure across India.

Specifically, the new agreement paves the way for redevelopment that enhances passenger amenities, improves station access and optimizes utilization at target railway stations.

The stations targeted for smart city redevelopment are: Varnasi, Bhubaneswar, Thane, Puducherry, Lucknow, Jaipur, Kota, Tirupati, Sarai Rohilla in Delhi and Margao in Goa

The project is a joint venture between the Railway Ministry, which will hold primary responsibility, and the Urban Development Ministry.

“Railway stations have been the core of city development and have become congested over time and their redevelopment offers immense opportunities for changing city landscape,” said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

How local smart cities are happening

Meanwhile, Urban Development will take the lead in negotiating with various states and city governments in order to integrate the station redevelopment into local smart city strategies.

“This convergence based city development will result in qualitative improvement in city life,” said Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.

He said that the station project could be a good fit for the National Buildings Construction Corporation which has previously self-financed redevelopment initiatives.

Prabhu added that other sources of support for the station redevelopment project may come from outside the country. He said such countries as the U.K., Germany, Japan, France, Belgium and South Korea have expressed interest in the project.

To drum up further interest, India is planning to host a round table next week where international and domestic bankers will discuss opportunities for financing aspects of the initiative.

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