Indian Railways has decided to expedite redevelopment of 400 A1 and A category railway stations across the country. It will now appoint its joint venture company Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) as the nodal agency to speed up the process.
The high-value project to revamp these stations through public private partnership (PPP) will require investments of around Rs 1 lakh crore. The Railways will also monetise 2,700 acres of spare railway land as part of it.
The first phase of the redevelopment was launched in February this year with 23 stations under previous railways minister Suresh Prabhu.
The appointment of IRSDC, a joint-venture between Ircon International Ltd and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), took place following recommendations from a three-member committee of experts, which had submitted its report in November, railway ministry sources told.
The report recommended IRSDC’s appointment as a nodal agency to ensure a speedy redevelopment process because the firm has shown notable performance in handling its model projects in places such as Gandhinagar and Surat.
The redeveloped stations will be designed to provide services such as digital signage, Wi-Fi, escalators, automatic ticket-vending systems for self-service, executive lounges, restaurants, and malls.
The committee suggested IRSDC be the monitoring body for future and existing railway station projects deciding the mode of implementation for such projects.
The committee’s report underlined the firm’s extensive experience in planning station redevelopment, executing and monitoring the projects; other railways departments and ministry officers are lacking in such experience.
Previously, the ministry used overlapping models for its redevelopment programmes carried out by IRSDC by general managers of zonal railways in PPP mode, in collaboration with Ministry of Urban Development, National Building Construction Corporation, or through RLDA and public sector undertakings of the ministry of railways, and so on.
The varied modes of operation led to confusion regarding decisions and overlapping of work. With a singular nodal agency things are expected to become more streamlined, a railway official told.
The IRSDC, on the other hand, said it has not received any communication regarding the appointment yet.