Railways offers PPP-mode revival of defunct stations

With the Municipal Corporation offering to renovate the defunct Thudiyalur railway station at a cost of Rs 39.85 lakh, residents of colonies along the Coimbatore — Mettupalayam road section want the remaining three stations also to be revived.

After repeated representations, the Southern Railway was now operating three special services in addition to a regular service. There were eight services from Coimbatore to Mettupalayam and from Mettupalayam to Coimbatore and the train has received overwhelming patronage. Mettupalayam People’s Welfare Federation convener T.T. Arangasamy has appealed to Southern Railway to increase the frequency with two more services in either direction and also to operate the services on Sundays. The train service now has only two stoppages at Perianaickenpalayam and Karamadai and the residents’ demand was to revive Veerapandi, Pudupalayam, Thudiyalur and Urumandampalayam railway stations. The Coimbatore — Mettupalayam section has a number of residential colonies, industries and educational institutions accounting for a steep increase in passenger traffic. A stop for these four pairs of trains would serve more passengers, Mr. Arangasamy said.

Meanwhile, the Southern Railway has offered to revive the defunct stations, provided the stations were renovated under the Public — Private Partnership (PPP) mode also known as Shramdhan scheme. As far as Thudiyalur railway station was concerned, the erstwhile Thudiyalur Town Panchayat (presently an added area of Coimbatore Corporation) had passed a resolution to this effect.

Now, the Coimbatore Corporation has also passed a resolution on September 19 to renovate the Thudiyalur station i.e., the station master’s room, platforms and toilet facilities at a cost of Rs 39.85 lakh. The Vellakinar Town Panchayat, vide its communication dated August 16, had communicated its willingness to renovate the Urumandampalayam railway station and provide basic amenities. With regard to Pudupalayam and Veerapandi railway stations, the Railway Struggle Committee and respective local residents’ associations were in talks with philanthropists and corporate houses to seek their contribution for station renovation works.

Mr. Arangasamy also appealed for increasing the platform length at Mettupalayam and Karamadai besides extending the Coimbatore — Mangalore Passenger Train No 56323 and 56324 up to Mettupalayam. With regard to electrification of the section, Railway sources said the scheme was sanctioned in 2012 — 2013 at a cost of Rs 26.08 crore and the tenders had been opened. Railway Electrification, Allahabad, will commence works shortly.


Rlys to offer sops to woo pvt players

With projects worth Rs 1.45 lakh crore pending, the cash-strapped railways plans to offer incentives, including tax holidays, to attract private players to invest in pending socially desirable and strategically located projects. A parliamentary panel was recently informed that the railways will approach the finance ministry after formulating the proposal.

The move is an attempt to make investments in socially desirable but economically unviable projects attractive under public private partnership (PPP) mode by offering tax incentives and concessions after the lukewarm response of private players.

The state-run transporter is considering incentives like tax holidays under the I-T Act, exemptions from central excise and custom duty on purchase of capital goods, relief from sales tax and VAT and relief from payment of octroi and entry tax.

Parliament’s Railway Convention committee has asked the railways to examine the prospect of PPP in socially desirable projects in backward areas in consultation with finance ministry.

“Most of the socially desirable projects have low financial returns in the short run, but yield high socioeconomic dividends. The government has to support such projects,” a railway official said.

Faced with funds crunch and a large number of pending projects, railways has given priority to those projects in which state governments —such as Karnataka, AP, MP, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra — are sharing costs.


National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) to smoothen NCR travel

With Rs.100 crore share capital, the Corporation will implement the Regional Rapid Transport System.

The four States of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and the Ministries of Railways, Urban Development and the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) on Thursday inked an agreement to set up a new shell company, the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC).

The Corporation will design, develop, implement, finance, operate and maintain the Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS) in the National Capital Region to provide comfortable and fast transit to NCR towns, and meet the high growth in transport demand.

The company will have a share capital of Rs.100 crore on a 50:50 ownership pattern with 50 per cent owned by the Centre and 50 per cent by the State governments.

The company will implement individual RRTS corridors either through separate Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) or on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

In the first phase, the RRTS will cover Delhi-Sonepat-Panipat, Delhi-Gurgaon-Alwar and Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut.

Estimated to cost around Rs.72,000 crore, the RRTS corridors will have a designated completion time of five years from the time of land acquisition, said Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna.

He urged the States to come up with innovative funding methods so that the dependence on Central Government funding is reduced. Mr. Krishna said money can be raised through property development along the transit corridors and stations, and through increased property tax collections and increased floor area ratios.

He also encouraged the States to look at borrowing from the domestic markets as has been done by the Bangalore Metro.

The funding pattern of the three rail-based corridors, however, would be chalked out separately keeping in mind factors such as the territory that a line covers in various States. “As per the tentative costs the project is pegged at Rs. 72,000 crore and to avoid cost and time overruns, work of the projects should start at the earliest,” said NCRPB member secretary Naini Jayaseelan.

On Delhi’s opposition to allow RRTS to terminate within city limits, Urban Development officials said the issue is being discussed and Delhi’s apprehension that it will lead to chaos are being allayed.

“We have explained how the RRTS and the Metro and other modes of public transport are being integrated for seamless connectivity and hopefully all issues will be resolved,” said S.K. Lohia, officer on special duty, urban transport.

Of the three proposed corridors, Delhi-Alwar is the longest at 180 km and would reduce travel time to 117 minutes, the corridor from Delhi to Panipat is 111 km with a travel time of 74 minutes and the 90-km-long Delhi-Meerut route has a proposed travel time of 62 minutes.


Luxury lounge likely at Patna

A highly tech-friendly and sophisticated lounge similar to those in airports would come up at Patna Junction for passengers caught in transit.

The construction for the world-class executive lounge would begin in the last week of March this year. Patna Junction would be among the 50 stations across the country where such air-conditioned lounges would come up.

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) and Indian Railways would jointly execute the project in public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

Patna IRCTC regional manager Zubraj Minz said: “We have received a letter from the Indian Railways, which states that the opening and submission of tenders would be done on February 6, 2013. It would be a first-of-its-kind executive lounge in Bihar where passengers would get facilities at a par with airport lounges. However, passengers would have to pay for every facility.”

At the lounge, passengers would be able to freshen up in the rest room that would have lockers, bathrooms and sofas. Light refreshments like tea, coffee, sandwich, burger, cold drinks and other packed eatables would be served too. People opting for wash-and-change service would get quality toiletries like laundered towels and shower kits. There would be a separate room for “meet-and-greet service” where conferences can be held with PowerPoint presentations. The lounge would have Wi-Fi, television and music system too.

On the opening date of the facility, the official said: “Once the tender process is over, the construction would start in March. The service would be available within 10 months after that. The lounge would accommodate at least 100 passengers at one time.”


Railway retiring rooms renovated under PPP mode

The South Western Railways’ Mysore Railway station has become the first in the country with its retiring rooms being renovated under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. SWR sources told UNI that the scheme has been taken up under Renovation Operation and Transfer (ROT) basis and Mysore’s success story was now a role model for 25 other railway divisions in the country to follow the PPP concept.

Retiring rooms at Shimoga and Davangere in the Mysore division would also be taken up for renovation under the PPP model. The retiring rooms, renovated by Sandesh Group of Hotels, was inaugurated by the Divisional Railway Manager, Vinod Kumar, on the eve of the dasara festivities.

Bona fide railway passengers would be treated to three-star comforts at reasonable tariff, he added. The Indian Railways had in 2006 decided to offload some of its non-core activities like managing retiring rooms and rope in specialists in their respective domain under the PPP model. But it had no takers and the Mysore division infused a new life into it by successfully roping in a private entrepreneur. Senior Divisional Commercial Manager Anup Dayanand Sadhu pointed out that the Mysore division incurred a loss of Rs.10 lakh in maintaining the retiring rooms which entailed diversion of its scarce staff to non-core duties. But under the current agreement, the Sandesh Group would pay it Rs.5 lakh by way of licence fee, and an additional Rs.5 lakh as annual user charger will add to the railway’s revenue. MORE UNI BSP GV ADB1105 NNNN

— (UNI)