Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Railways, real estate and opportunities

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?


PP said...

Unfortunately the best we can think of is world class. Never the best in the world.

Neelakantan said...

Well, even world class is better than the "third class" that we have now...Any improvement is progress...

Pavan C.Joshi said...

World over, stations are segregated North, South, East, West and moved to respective corner of the city, like airport.
Corners = airports, again smae idea, all linked by outer ring road.

Why? To unlock land value AND help users to get to the end w/o time waste. Many travel to interior, others to city suburbia. Center stations force ppl. to get off in jammed downtown, then travel backwards to end of journey.

Conclusion: DIRE NEED TO PRIVATISE ALL RAIL OPS! Stop resource waste by competing with Airlines, why? Maybe enable the airlines by focussing on freight business, whynot door-to-door, and leaving the passenger business to airlines, ships and buses. Get creative, use blimps for time delay, cheap inter-city travel biz.