This report from Rediff set "Airport-like railway stations soon" set me thinking. While our present airports and railway stations are no better than cattle sheds (some of them are), so the title does not make sense right away. But inside there are plans to convert the existing 4 metro terminals of Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and Madras into something like this:
...Separate arrival and departure lounges, shopping malls, and a high-tech electronic queue management system for passengers.
Rail Bhawan officials said the railways plan to construct additional floors at these railway stations, which will be leased out to companies to run mini-theatres, shopping malls, restaurants and food plazas.
About time they woke up from 19th centurly railway dreams and facilities. Only CIDCO railway stations in Navi mumbai (see link above) have shown how much can be gained out of a railway station in a true sense.
The railways are sitting on some prime real estate across the country and have built railway stations like cattle sheds (cement base and asbestos roof and pretty much nothing else). The value they could unlock out of the land these sheds sit on (even by leasing and not outright sale) is a humungous amount - enough to transform the face of the Indian railways, if used in the right way. See the opportunity they have lost out on- they could still catch up, but with the railways thats a distant dream.
So how about faster trains too?