In line with the Indian Railways’ blueprint, previewed by ET, a number of stations shall be linked by elevated roads, and a few of the stations can be having air concourses, an area over the tracks with meals courts and different facilities, and lodge rooms. The design will think about native ethos. For example, the station roof in Somnath may have a dozen shikhars representing 12 jyotirlingas, whereas Bihar’s Gaya station may have a separate corridor for pilgrims. Some stations have been allotted paltry sums — Rs 61 crore for Kanniyakumari and `91 crore for Nellore – whereas main ones comparable to Prayagraj and Chennai have been earmarked Rs 960 crore and Rs 842 crore respectively
The blueprint is not only concerning the modernisation of railway stations. Additionally it is a pointer to how the nationwide transporter is taking a look at public-private partnerships (PPP) after years of trial and error. “The modality we have now adopted is a hybrid PPP. We at the moment are spending cash in creating solely the core station space. As soon as that portion is constructed within the subsequent two-three years, we are going to invite bids from personal gamers to take care of these stations and develop extra actual property in adjoining areas,” says a senior railway officer linked to the challenge, on situation of anonymity, including that the transporter has already recognized vacant land parcels in every station that may be supplied for bidding on PPP mode later. “As the unique challenge is sweetened now (with railways investing a considerable quantity upfront) , extra personal gamers will come ahead,” he provides.
This time the Railways has acquired the requisite fund prepared earlier than setting the ball rolling. The federal government has sanctioned Rs 17,500 crore (Rs 12,000 crore within the supplementary finances of 2021-22 and Rs 5,500 crore within the 2022-23 finances) to modernise 46 stations in part 1.
Railways plans to redevelop 300 extra stations out of a complete of 9,274 within the nation (March 2020 determine) within the subsequent part, deploying the identical monetary mannequin, ET has learnt.
Non-public firms typically hesitate in taking over brownfield rail tasks since building work inside a station — the place a whole lot of trains move day by day — comes with its personal set of challenges. Nevertheless, constructing a mall in an adjoining railway space will not be so troublesome.
Vinod Kumar Yadav, former railway board chairman and CEO, says he helps the thought of the nationwide transporter spending cash within the present financial scenario however provides that it should not abandon standard PPP tasks. “As personal investments are drying up after the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, the railways has determined to redevelop choose stations with its personal cash. It’ll seemingly have interaction personal events later,” he says.
Final week, the federal government knowledgeable Parliament that it was now not pursuing what was hyped as a premier PPP enterprise — its bid to introduce 151 personal trains, which had been in limbo following poor response from personal gamers. “At current, there isn’t any proposal into account for operation of normal passenger practice providers over Indian Railways by personal practice operators,” clarified Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in a written reply to a Rajya Sabha query.
Underneath the brand new station redevelopment plan, out of 46 stations, EPC (engineering, procurement and building) tenders have already been awarded to 6 stations — Tirupati (Rs 312 cr), Gaya (Rs 296 cr), Udhna (Rs 223 cr), Somnath (Rs 157 cr), Ernakulam Jn (Rs 445 cr) and Puri (Rs 162 cr). Tenders for 16 extra stations have been invited however not awarded as but. These are Lucknow (Rs 494 cr), Muzaffarpur (Rs 444 cr), Ghaziabad (Rs 337 cr), Gandhi Nagar Jaipur (Rs 216 cr), Gwalior ( Rs 545 cr ) , Dakaniya Talav (Rs 124 cr), Kanniyakumari (Rs 67 cr), Kollam (Rs 348 cr), Nellore (Rs 91 cr), Bhubaneswar (308 cr), New Jalpaiguri (Rs 353 cr), Kota (Rs 232 cr), Udaipur Metropolis (Rs 358 cr), Faridabad (Rs 264 cr), Jammu Tawi (Rs 262 cr) and Jalandhar Cantt (Rs 100 cr).
Along with these 22 stations, the Railways has recognized 24 stations, together with Surat, Jaipur and Chennai Egmore, for redevelopment below the identical EPC components, taking the variety of proposed stations to be modernised to 46. Relying on the dimensions of the redevelopment work, the timeline for completion has been fastened between 18 and 36 months.
PPP-vs-EPC is an outdated debate. Within the PPP mode, a non-public occasion takes the lion’s share of dangers because it arranges the requisite funds. It, nonetheless, enjoys the liberty to design and execute a challenge. Within the EPC mode, the federal government prepares the blueprint, engages design consultants and sanctions cash. The duty for the successful bidder is just to construct the infrastructure in keeping with the prescribed design. In line with an officer aware of the matter, the Railways could award 15 different stations via standard PPP mode whereas three main station redevelopment tasks — New Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad — could also be shifted from PPP to EPC.
WHOSE MONEY IS IT?
These arguing in favour of PPP say the personal sector is far more environment friendly in designing and executing massive tasks, citing examples of Delhi and Mumbai airports. Additionally, the railways’ latest penchant to mobilise further budgetary assets through market borrowings could boomerang sometime. A railway officer, requesting anonymity, argues: “If tasks like station growth, procuring of wagons and rolling out of Vande Bharat trains fructify as being deliberate, a day will come quickly when the Railways will discover itself in a debt entice. In any case, part of the fund comes via the which, in flip, borrows cash at market fee.”
Until now, there is just one instance of an Indian railway station being developed via PPP. That’s Bhopal’s Rani Kamalapati (earlier referred to as Habibganj), which was redeveloped by an area conglomerate, the Bansal Group, at a value of about `150 crore. Its challenge director Mohammed Abu Asif says it’s anticipated to interrupt even in 15 years.
Former railway board chairman Vivek Sahai argues that the Indian Railways’ resolution to return to the EPC mode is a smart one. “I’ve been arguing for over a decade that the PPP didn’t make sense for the railways. Stations must be redeveloped through EPC. What railways wants, although, is a regulator,” he says.
Infrastructure skilled and PPP supporter Vinayak Chatterjee concedes that getting the PPP mannequin proper will not be straightforward. “In 2021, Britain introduced the renationalisation of the British Rail after a 25-year run on what was believed to be an iconic PPP initiative. Indian Railways too has been struggling to get PPP initiatives off the bottom,” says Chatterjee, managing trustee of Infravision Basis.
With the railways searching for an pressing facelift to its oldfashioned and out of date stations, altering tracks from the standard PPP mode to plain vanilla EPC contracts will little doubt pace issues up. Nevertheless it should deploy the reverse gear and faucet personal sector assets as and when international macroeconomic situations recuperate.