IRSDC in talks with Malaysia’s state-owned CIDB for 20-plus stations upgrade

CIDB already has an MoU with India’s IRCON International Ltd to develop Railway infrastructure in India

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways Stations Redevelopment Corporation has received a shot in the arm with Malaysia’s state-owned Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) showing interest to redevelop at least 20 stations across the country.

“We have been working with Malaysia and have done some roadshows. They have expressed interest in our programme,” a railway ministry official said. CIDB was established by Malaysia to promote, improve and expand the country’s construction industry, among other functions.

The railway ministry plans to redevelop 400-plus major stations across the country to provide world-class passenger amenities. This will be done by leasing out railway land to private developers for 45 years who will commercialize the land parcels and in turn redevelop stations and maintain them for 15 years.

However, the railways can only lease stations through open tendering and as per current approvals, only individual stations can be put up for auction and there is no provision for bulk tendering. “It is up to us to find a suitable model for them,” said the official, adding that the carrier will have to think about a way to provide CIDB contracts through a transparent method.

As a final solution, the railways can approach the Cabinet for a government-to-government understanding but before that it will look for other ways which are at preliminary stage right now, according to the official.

The development comes close to the Indian Railways reaching out to the foreign embassies in India, urging them to market the station redevelopment plan in their own countries. The railways has already received inquiries from Switzerland, the UAE, Kuwait, Slovakia, Malaysia and Japan.

CIDB, however, has not named or asked for any particular category of stations, though they have shown interest in Rajasthan through road projects apart from some in the southern part of India. “We will give them stations which are not unviable but not the top-notch ones. We expect that with their expertise, we at least get those assured returns as expected,” said the official. Not all the stations will give similar rate of returns to developers, and the railways will, at a later date, think of incentivising developers to take up stations with lower margins.

Interestingly, CIDB already has an MoU with India’s Ircon International to develop railway infrastructure in India. “However, we do not want to select them through IRCON and we will be transparent in whatever way we approach it,” said the official.