How Indian Railways Is Going About Station Redevelopment Across The Country
Efforts to redevelop India’s railways stations are in full swing, with the Prime Minister himself flagging off a couple of projects recently.
Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone on 21 June for the redevelopment of the Bengaluru Cantonment and Yesvantpur Junction railway stations (Bengaluru) at a cost of around Rs 500 crore and Rs 375 crore respectively.
Need for an upgrade. The Indian Railways has one of the largest transportation and logistics networks in the world. It runs 23,000 trains, including 13,500 passenger trains to carry 24 million passengers per day, connecting about 8,000 stations spread across the Indian subcontinent.
Passenger traffic of this magnitude needs adequate amenities at railways stations as well as on board. Hence, the modernisation plans.
Modernisation implies improving passenger amenities at select stations.
This includes improving amenities like the facade of a station building, the waiting hall with bathing facilities, TV for upper classes ('A1' and 'A' category stations), signages, foot over-bridges, and prepaid taxi/radio taxi booth.
These upgrades have been generally funded by the Railways under its "Plan Head 53, ‘Passenger Amenities’."
Station upgrade schemes. Modernisation of stations has been undertaken under various schemes over the years, such as the model station scheme, the modern station scheme, and the adarsh station scheme.
Under the model station scheme (1999 to 2008), 594 stations were selected for upgradation. Of these, 590 stations were developed, two stations closed, and two stations dropped by zonal railways.
Under the modern station scheme (2006-07 to 2007-08), 637 stations were selected for upgradation, and developed. The scheme has since been discontinued.
Presently, stations are upgraded under the adarsh station scheme (2009-). Under the scheme, 1,253 stations have been identified for development, of which 1,213 stations have been developed and the pending 40 stations are targeted for modernisation in FY 2022-23.
Funding redevelopment was a challenge. The Railways has many areas in which to invest.
It was decided that station upgradation endeavours should be met by commercial exploitation of vacant land and air space in and around railway stations.
It made sense, then, to develop or redevelop certain railway stations of metro cities and important junctions as world-class stations.
The method: leveraging commercial development of land and air space in and around the stations through innovative financing on the PPP mode.
The Railway conducts techno-economic feasibility studies of stations across the country. Based on the outcome, stations are taken up for redevelopment in phases.
“Redevelopment”? It means focusing on improving passenger amenities at railway stations by leveraging the real estate available with the Railways to fund the development.
The private sector invests capital to develop state-of-the-art amenities to provide a world-class experience to passengers.
They bring innovation and efficiency to the project.
In turn, they are ensured a steady stream of revenue in lieu of investment into the station — a proposition made possible because these stations are at prime locations in various cities and also offer guaranteed footfall.
The station developer earns their revenue from kiosks, food and beverages, and shopping outlets on the concourse. Parking fee is another source of revenue.
A user charge is proposed to be introduced. This will be added to the ticket cost of the passenger and transferred to the developer.
To use the redeveloped facilities, passengers will have to pay a nominal user fee depending on the class of travel.
Making moves. The Gandhinagar capital railway station in Gujarat and the Rani Kamlapati railway station in Madhya Pradesh were redeveloped and commissioned as the country’s first and second 'world-class stations' of the Indian Railways.
The Sir M Visvesvaraya railway station has been commissioned as the country’s third world-class railway station.
Work is in progress at five stations: Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), Bijwasan (Delhi), Safdarjung (Delhi), Gomtinagar (Uttar Pradesh), and Ajni (Maharashtra).
Tendering is on for Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Udhna (Gujarat), and Gaya (Bihar) by the zonal railways.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSTM) railway station in Maharashtra and New Delhi Railway Station in Delhi have been identified for development under the 'hybrid build, operate, and transfer' (HYBOT) model of the PPP mode.
Goals. The Indian Railways reportedly intends to award around 40 stations for redevelopment in 2022-23. Of them, 32 will be redeveloped by the various zones of the Railways while eight will be done by the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA).
The Ministry of Railways has planned for redevelopment of railway stations through zonal railways, RLDA, and other central government agencies.
What’s next: All major stations on the Indian Railways have been entrusted to these agencies for undertaking the techno-economic feasibility studies. Based on the outcome of the studies, the stations are planned to be taken up for redevelopment in phases.
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