Railways may rent out land to generate funds

To curtail losses, Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal plans to boost revenue from non-core activities in the impending rail budget scheduled for February 26. The Railways is likely to through open land for commercial use and let out advertising space at the stations of the country to increase revenue in the next financial year.

As per the data, the Railways is incurring 18 per cent deficit annually and the losses are likely to rise to Rs 23,000 crore in the current financial year. Stressed by the losses, the world’s largest passengers ferrying network is facing paucity of funds for annual maintenance of infrastructure.

Many projects were held up due to lack of funds with the ministry. After hiking passenger fares nominally recently, the ministry is now targeting to generate more funds from the non-traffic segment. In the coming budget, the minister is likely to bring a liberal policy for renting out railway land adjoining railway stations to private realtors.

As per records of the Railway Ministry, there is around 43,000 hectares of railway land lying vacant in the country. The ministry plans to come up with several commercial projects mainly by leasing out this vacant land. Recently Pawan Kumar Bansal had stated here that the proposal to invest on the non-traffic segment is in the pipeline and the ministry has maintained that the revenue generated from the passenger and freight operations is not sufficient to fund the improvement in the railway infrastructure.

It is expected that in the coming budget, the Railway Minister will announce IT related industry in the northern region. A pilot project has been mooted to set up IT industry to develop latest security equipments, including signal link and anti-collision devices in Chandigarh on around 700 acres of land lying vacant adjoining to the railway station.

Out of total 64,000 km tracks, just 5 km has modern equipment for signaling during fog whereas as such signals are required after every kilometre. In the next five years, the railways plans to spend Rs 1.1 lakh crore on installing modern signal mechanism and other measures for safety. Besides this, the Railways is also planning to set up green field rail coach factory for which the railway officials have already examined the sites in Haryana and Karnataka.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130220/nation.htm#10

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