The long-pending modernisation of India's 22 large railway stations is finally getting on track.
The government is set to invite expressions of interest (EoIs) from private players by the end of the month and top corporate houses like the Tatas, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) and Larsen & Tourbro (L&T) will compete to bag the Rs-10, 000 crore project.
The facelift would include stations like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Patna, Chennai, Agra, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bhopal, Howrah, Jaipur and Lucknow. "The total project cost is likely to be over Rs 10,000 crore," said a source close to the railway ministry. "The construction and management of facilities at these stations is being proposed on a Design-Build-Finance-Operate basis (DBFO). The PM cleared it in the Cabinet meeting in June," said a top railway board official.
Interestingly, companies that had bagged the contract to modernise airports in the country are also set to join the race. Bangalore-based GMR, which is upgrading New Delhi airport, is understood to be keen, according to investment banking sources. "We are very interested if it is a BOOT project (Build-Operate-Own and Transfer)," said a top GMR official. International funds and multinationals like GE also could also join the race.
A senior L&T official said: "Of course, we are interested. The exact project details will have to be cleared by the government first."
Spokespersons from both the Tatas and ADAG declined to comment.
The project's major attraction could well be the right to develop over 80 hectares of land, spread over various railway stations, for a specified time period. The land will be handed over to the consortium that bags the contract.