Railways to invite PE, pension funds for Rs 1-trillion station revamp plan

The Union government is looking to open up the ambitious Rs 1-trillion railway stations redevelopment programme to private equity (PE) players and pension funds. Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) will invite expressions of interest (EoIs) next month for partnerships to fund the redevelopment of at least 10 stations, a senior official said.

IRSDC is the nodal agency for station redevelopment in India. On Monday, the agency had an initial round of meeting with PE and pension funds that could invest in these stations. 

“We are looking at investment partners to pump in Rs 2,500-3,000 crore for a pool of 10 stations. This will help us in taking up the project development starting from construction work,” said S K Lohia, managing director and chief executive officer, IRSDC. 

IRSDC has a list of 20 high-potential stations, and the investor will get the choice to select a pool of 10 on the basis of their rate of returns. The stations on the list are Mumbai Central, Pune Shivajinagar, Bandra Terminus, Bangalore City, Chennai Egmore, Andheri, Udaipur City, Kolkata, Dadar, Lokmanya Tilak, Adarshnagar Delhi, Delhi Shahadara, Gandhinagar Jaipur, Delhi Cantt, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Borivali, Bangalore Cantonment, Asansol, and Wardha.

According to the plan, the development partner will be paid an agreed rate of returns out of the proceeds from land monetisation and all the subsequent cash flows from the commercialisation of the project.

Macquarie, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), and sovereign funds could be keen on the project, said officials.

To manage the project, a holding company or institutional arrangement between IRSDC and the investor will be formed. The partner will work on the project structuring, and construction and development of stations, along with land monetisation. 

Station redevelopment is anticipated as one of the major infrastructure investments with the railways. The government has already zeroed in on 600 stations across the country for redevelopment, at an investment of Rs 1 trillion.

Earlier this year, five public sector companies — RITES, Mecon Ltd, National Project Construction Corporation, Engineering Projects (India), and Kolkata-based Bridge and Roof Company (India) — were roped in to speed up the redevelopment of at least 42 stations. The first two redeveloped stations -- Habibganj and Gandhinagar – are likely to be commissioned by the end of this year.

The development partner for the current pool of stations may be decided on the basis of who is seeking the least return on equity for developing the stations. “We wanted to keep the best stations in terms of commercial potential for the first round of such bidding,” Lohia said. 

Infra push on track

 

Stations on high-potential list

Mumbai Central, Pune Shivajinagar, Bandra Terminus, Bangalore City, Chennai Egmore, Andheri, Udaipur City, Kolkata Terminal, Dadar, Lokmanya Tilak, Adarshnagar Delhi, Delhi Shahadara, Gandhinagar Jaipur, Delhi Cantt, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Borivali, Bangalore Cantt, Asansol, and Wardha