KOLKATA: The Indian Railways has invited bids from private developers for creating multi-functional complexes (MFCs) in 93 railway stations across its entire network. With operating revenues under severe strain, the move is in step with the railways’ efforts to open up new revenue streams by generating cash from non-core assets.
These include three stations each under East Central, North Central and North Eastern Railway, including Gorakhpur, four stations under West Central, Central railway (like Gulburga, Wardha), South and North western, five under East Coast and South East Central Railways, six in Northern Railway and Western Railway (like Vasai Road and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus), seven under North EastFrontier (Agartala, Dibrugarh town), Southern Railway and South Eastern railway like Tatanagar, Jhargram, Bishnupur, and nine under South central.
The single largest chunk of MFCs —some 17 of them — are due to come up under Eastern Railway alone. This includes Asansol, Kalyani, Murshidabad, Malda Town, Ballygunj, Dhakuria.
The railways have asked Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) to develop the MFCs. RLDA, which is a separate arm under the ministry of railways and develops railway land for commercial use, will choose plots out of railway land pool and develop these plots on a long-term lease basis. The prospective partner or the developer will have to design, finance, construct, operate, market and maintain these MFCs. “This is the first time such an attempt is being made by Indian Railways to use space around stations,” a railway ministry official said.
These MFCs are supposed to provide railway users facilities like shopping, food stalls and restaurants, book stalls, PCO booths, ATMs, medicine shops and variety stores. Additionally, budget hotels, parking and other amenities will also be made available at these spaces.
The railways have invited expressions of interest (EoIs) from prospective developers either on their individual basis or in a consortium. Depending on the response, RLDA will decide the eligibility criteria, terms and conditions of the bidding and whether these MFCs could be developed through a clustering of stations.
RLDA is in the process of identifying the location and plot sizes. Ideally, such plots will be located near stations that will ensure easy access and steady footfall. The plot sizes are expected to vary between 1000 and 3000 square metres. However, depending on the availability of land in and around stations, the plot sizes could also range from 200 sq m to a few hectares.