HOW about visiting the nearest railway station for a movie? Or for five-star hospitality, or simply shopping? A five-star hotel at Delhi railway station, a shopping mall at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or an entertainment centre at Chennai’s Central could soon become a possibility. The Railways have decided to allow commercial use of space available at 21 railway stations in major cities, developing commercial space above tracks. Private sector developers would be roped in to upgrade, reconstruct and maintain the stations — creating space for commercial ventures in the process.

Reconstruction of the Delhi station alone would involve an investment of Rs 7,000 crore. Going vertical at railway stations would help railways to tap more value from the land owned by it, officials feel. “The proposal is part of the railways’ public-private partnership (PPP) initiative. Railways are scheduled to make a presentation in this regard on Saturday at the chief secretaries’ conference, to be inaugurated by finance minister P Chidambaram,” an official said. It is learnt the Railways would explain the PPP model at one of the sessions, chaired by the Prime Minister’s principle secretary TKA Nair.

Explaining the PPP initiative, an official said the 21 stations would be transformed into world-class railway stations. “It has been decided to allow reconstruction and maintenance of operational and public areas through concession agreements. All assets, developed by private firms, will, however, be repossessed by the Railways at the end of the concession period,” he said. In its presentation at the chief secretaries conference, the Railways would seek states’ support. The meeting would also be attended by top functionaries of financing firms such a the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, ICICI, State Bank of India and IDFC.

The identified stations to be modernised in the first phase are New Delhi, CSTM Mumbai, Howrah, Chennai, Bangalore, Patna, Anand Vihar (Delhi), Mathura, Jaipur, Amritsar, Agra, Pune, Lucknow, Bijwasan (Delhi), Chandigarh, Varanasi, Trivandrum, Secunderabad, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar and Bhopal.


“The Railways have initiated the process for the Patna station. Request for proposal (RFP) has been invited from international consultants,” a Rail Bhawan official told ET.


Source: The Economic Times
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