Platform set for railway stations facelift

The Indian Railways will revive its ambitious programme of modernising railway stations through public private participation (PPP) route. Every new incumbent at the Rail Bhavan since the past five terms has not been able to achieve the feat and none have been successful in bringing the proposed project even to the drawing board stage.

In the Rail Budget for 2012, the then Railways Minister, Dinesh Trivedi mooted the same plan but it met with little success. The present incumbent Pawan Kumar Bansal, in his recently held press conference, reiterated that a Railway Stations Development Corporation will be launched to renovate and redevelop five railway stations as pilot project.

“We have identified five stations and those will be modernised as a part of the pilot project, we will start the process afresh,” Railway Board Chairman, Vinay Mittal told Express.

According to the plan, the five railway stations that will see redevelopment include Pune, Chandigarh, Bijwasan in Delhi, Habibganj in Bhopal and Amritsar.

The proposed corporation will be a special purpose vehicle (SPV) with equity participation of Ircon International Limited, a government company under the Ministry of Railways and Rail Land Development Authority, a statutory authority under the Ministry of Indian Railways.

“The chairman-cum-managing director for the proposed corporation has already been identified and the process of formalising the corporation, its finer mandate has already been put in place so that the corporation can start its work,” a senior Railway official said requesting anonymity.

The corporation will look at how investments can be brought in for the development of railway stations across the country, which if not through the PPP route could also taken up by sponsors who could invest for development of those railway stations that are in dire need of a face lift.

The corporation, sources said, would also look at ways of revenue maximisation from non-core business of the Indian Railways.

The Railways had earlier shortlisted 35 such stations for renovation and redevelopment but the project had to be shelved after a particular company had cornered 34 of the tenders for modernisation, the official informed.

The Indian Railways has over 7,500 stations across the country. Over 11,000 passenger trains and over 6,000 goods trains crisscross the nation every day.

Sources said, once the stations are modernised they will have the potential of generating crores by way of non-core revenues. “At present, we are not fully harnessing the revenue generating potential of the Indian railway station, while the Delhi Airport alone generates Rs 100 crore per annum by way of advertising revenues and the railway stations put together are not even a fraction of that,” he added.