Home >Politics >Policy >Indian Railways to levy user charges in bid to redevelop stations

Indian Railways is planning to introduce ‘affordable’ user charges in 700-1,050 stations across the country to generate more revenue, while providing better facilities for passengers.

This is a massive shift from its initial plan of levying user charges from passengers using 50 modernized stations. The station redevelopment project is being considered under a public-private partnership.

NITI Aayog chief executive officer Amitabh Kant said on Thursday that the objective is to offer 50 stations for redevelopment by the end of 2021. A pre-fixed and affordable user charge will be notified by railways and will ensure no burden on the passenger. “We are looking at a close to 1 trillion investment. RFQ (request for qualification) for 10 stations have been floated. Eight stations (including Gwalior and Surat) received overwhelming participation (from private investors)," Kant said at a virtual press conference.

Railway board chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav said an airport-like user fee will not be restricted to redeveloped stations and will soon be applicable in major stations, based on projection of higher footfall. “There are 7,000 stations. With expansion of our rail network, we will have to expand and develop more stations. The fee will be applicable only in 10-15% (of 7,000 stations)," Yadav said, adding that the user fee will be notified soon.

User charges are essentially a token amount, which will be ploughed back to improve convenience and facilities for all passengers at the stations, a railway ministry official said, seeking anonymity.

“It will only be collected by the facility management when the development of the station is complete. Prior to that if a need is felt to levy any user charge, it will only go to Indian Railways and will be ploughed back for improvement of facilities for the common passengers. The value of the benefits will outweigh the small user charge," he added.

Another official said along with revenue generation and better services for passengers at railway stations, imposition of a user fee will help streamline and regulate the non-passenger traffic in stations.

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