Coming soon: PVR, Big Bazaar at Railway Stations

The first of these will come up at Gandhinagar in Gujarat, where the existing railway station is being remodelled.

NEW DELHI: Shop for trendy clothes, stock up on groceries and catch the latest movie while you wait for your train to arrive at the railway station.

The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) is in talks with several private retail chains and entertainment houses, including, Big Bazaar and PVR Cinemas, to open their outlets at these busy transportation hubs.

The first of these will come up at Gandhinagar in Gujarat, where the existing railway station is being remodelled.

“We are in talks with Big Bazaar and PVR Cinemas to open their outlets at Gandhinagar railway station in Gujarat. They are keen to explore the opportunity at this new world-class station and based on this experience, further opportunities in other railway stations would also be explored,” S.K. Lohia, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, IRSDC, told in an interview.

Emails sent to Future Retail and PVR Cinemas remained unanswered.

IRSDC is the nodal agency for undertaking station re-development across the country. Lohia said retail space at stations will be sold through a tendering process.

Apart from a six-screen cinema, the Gandhinagar station, which is under re-development, will have green landscaping and house a 300-room hotel built above the railway tracks, a first for India. It will have a transit hall for passengers to seat 600 people and include a prayer room. The foundation stone for the project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2017, and the station is expected to be completed by 2019.

Stations being redeveloped need to have revenue generation models to sustain their maintenance and leasing out retail space will help foot the bill, Lohia said. “The new facilities do not mean that subsidised food like Jan Aahar will be stopped on railway stations. We are going to provide various options and passengers can choose among them.”

The Gandhinagar railway station was outsourced on engineering procurement and construction (EPC) model and the government had received five bids for it.

Kunal Construction won the bid and is constructing the project.

In October, the Cabinet allowed Indian Railways to lease out its land and air space in and around stations for up to 99 years to create state-of-the-art smart stations across the country, which are 30-45 years old. These stations are being built at Habibganj in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) and in Gandhinagar (Gujarat).