Indian Railways Adopts Form-Based Codes for Station Redevelopment

Undertaken By: Creative Footprints,    Recent Publication: 2021

India’s rail network is a significant growth engine for our economy, and its expansion must be aligned with robust decarbonization strategies. The Railways has embarked on an ambitious 100% electrification target and announced an ambitious Station Redevelopment programme.

Railway stations are dynamic public spaces that act as high-density 24×7 multi-utility hubs. But the pressure of additional infrastructure will increase energy demand and consumption, which in turn will lead to more emissions and pollution. Integrating energy efficiency and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) guidelines into the redevelopment plans can reduce emissions and contribute to India’s climate goals.

The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC), the nodal agency for the redevelopment of railway stations in India, has developed a comprehensive set of codes and guidebooks— called the Manual for Station Redevelopment including Commercial Development—that focus on sustainable and green development. The codes also include guidelines for heritage conservation based on sustainability parameters.

The codes use a Form-Based approach, a first-of-its-kind in India, equivalent to Building Bye-Laws in a city. This approach aims to conserve energy by using land efficiently and creating a built environment that encourages the use of Non-Motorized Transport, improves access to public transit, and promotes resource-efficient infrastructural growth.

The codes define and standardize the process of formulating and approving the plans for station redevelopment with a set of pre-defined objectives. The initial plan is to revitalize 400 station areas with large-scale station modernization and world-class passenger infrastructure. The initiative can be replicated in 8,000 stations and their adjoining areas to improve their environmental performance and capitalize on real estate opportunities.

The redevelopment efforts are geared towards transforming railway station areas into a ‘Railopolis’– a mini smart city with mixed-use development where one can live, work, play and ride, thus attracting huge investment and business opportunities.

Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and Creative Footprints contributed to the development of these codes and provided inputs for their fine-tuning before their adoption by the IRSDC.