Private stations can be a win-win for railways, operators
The idea of modernising and running India's large railway stations in the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode has been dusted and taken off the shelf. The prime minister has announced that this will be done initially in around a dozen stations, with trains running below and the space above developed as commercial property.
The idea of modernising railway stations under a PPP arrangement was aired several years ago by the then railway minister, Lalu Prasad, who visualised attracting Rs 15,000 crore investment in 22 stations.
A beginning was made in seeking to transform New Delhi Railway Station for the Commonwealth Games in 2010. But this was a non-starter as the Planning Commission and the railways could not agree on a model concession agreement for such projects. Now, with a more powerful prime minister, Narendra Modi, at the helm and the Planning Commission out of the way, it is quite likely that prominent Indian railway stations will be put under the PPP mode.