The High Volume Temple Town
The Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple in Tirupati is by far the most visited pilgrimage centre across the globe. It is estimated that in 2018, more than 3 crore or 30 million pilgrims visited the temple atop the seven hills that form the temple town of Tirumala.
The number is almost ten times the number of pilgrims that visited the Vatican or Mecca.
The bustling town of Tirupati is the gateway to these crores of pilgrims who arrive for those few seconds of darshan of Lord Venkateswara. The number of pilgrims is only growing year on year and pilgrims are arriving from far flung places across the globe and different parts of the country.
Trains are the most common means for pilgrims to reach Tirupati, with it being just overnight ride from most places within the southern peninsula. Tirupati is also connected by train to virtually every part of the country, making it easy for pilgrims to visit the sacred shrine.
A conservative estimate of the average footfall at Tirupati railway station is 75,000 per day. Catering to such a huge number is no mean achievement, something that South Central Railway seems to have pulled off effectively.
The Tirupati Railway station was built close to the bus station in the centre of the erstwhile sleepy town with a yard for train maintenance. At some distance from the station, a coach maintenance facility was built for repair and periodic overhaul of passenger coaches.
The six platforms and a mid sized concourse cum waiting hall served well earlier, but with the facilities atop the hill becoming advanced and stay becoming comfortable, more and more people started visiting the temple. The area surrounding the railway station became the epicentre of development with many hotels and lodges coming up in the area.
The bus and taxi stands too underwent significant development in the limited area available. A new bus terminus near Alipiri was constructed as the central bus station was completely choc-a-bloc.
SCR has tried to reduce congestion at the Tirupati main station by developing Tirupati West and Renigunta stations to ease passenger rush. While these moves did reduce congestion, it wasn’t enough.
Passenger amenities were improved to make the station more modern. Open waiting halls on platforms 4 & 5, spacious cloak room, high speed wifi have been provided. A new premium lounge with 5 star facilities is being developed on platform 1 at a cost of over a crore rupees.
This will have spacious and comfortable waiting areas for ladies and gentlemen separately, free internet, newspapers and magazines, cold and hot beverages, instrumental music and television facilities, lockers and luggage compartments, plush and clean washrooms.
Master Redevelopment Plan
The National Building Construction Corporation of India, a blue chip public sector undertaking, has been entrusted redevelopment of Tirupati station at an approximate estimate of ₹ 400cr on EPC basis. The NBCC will oversee all activities right from design to construction, from commissioning to handover.
It will liaison with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam trust, the Tirupati Municipal Corporation and the Government of Andhra Pradesh apart from the Guntakal Division of the South Central Railway to achieve this monumental project completion in the shortest time possible.
Inputs from South Central Railway press release