Looking to improve passenger comfort, Indian Railways (IR) has decided to outsource operations at five railway stations to non-state, private players, reports Mint. The pilot project, called Integrated Station Management will see the following stations – Pune Junction, Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna Bengaluru City, Chandigarh, Secundrabad station in Hyderabad, and the Anand Vihar terminal in Delhi – being handed out to private partners for operations, taking the total number of privately operated railway stations in India to six. Habibganj station in Bhopal was handed over last June to the Bhopal-based Bansal Group.
The stations will be handed over to the Indian Railways Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) which will then invite bids from the private sector.
While core operations such as train movement and signalling will be with the railways, other functions such as running stalls, selling platform tickets, display boards, advertising and parking will be handed over to the winning bidder.
Railway officials said that the process of handing over the stations to ISRDC was in progress, following which bids would be called for privatisation. Privatisation of station operations has faced hurdles in the past with the NITI Aayog red-flagging the plans and a lack of interest from the private sector. Owing to poor response, the Railways decided to take up redevelopment of 68 stations on its own recently.
The revenue sharing model is yet to be finalised but railway sources indicated that it would be based on the model followed by the hotel industry.
In his budget speech last month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the modernisation of 600 railway stations across the country while plans from last year said that ISRDC would take up 130 stations on a public-private partnership (PPP).