With no proper Revenue Targets and Business Plan in place, investments in MFCs to prove dearer for IR

Indian Railways is actually not a revenue deficient entity… rather it is being pushed towards Bankruptcy – says an Observer.  So, who is pushing it towards bankruptcy?… they are none other than those lethargic officials with low quality-conscious mindset.  One such classic example added is the case of MFCs built by RLDA and IRCON at various Railway Stations in India deteriorating day by day due to low incumbency factor, poor maintenance, lack of revenues targets, coupled with unprofessional approach towards such assets by IR.  The key reason for such a failure of these costly new assets is purely due to lack of professional approach in business and poor revenue planning

Madurai (MDU): This is one of the classic example on how Railway revenues are being wasted by IR and its various entities in the form of different mega projects.  Most often, such facilities are being viewed as the best Publicity Stunts by IR Officials and can be the matter to fill their ACRs in the achievement column.  However many such lavish assets are proved to be unsuccessful adventures on Indian Railways.  Munti-Functional Complexes are the ones being built by IR across the country but without professional approach on how to create and generate revenues from such assets.  More surprising is that there is no proper maintain atleast for such costly infrastructure/assets across the country.

The Multi-Functional Complex (MFC) project at Madurai has been carried out by Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) with the intention of utilising the unused land on the railway premises for some constructive purposes. The construction work was carried out by IRCON and was completed with underground car parking facility in 2012.

Constructed at a cost of Rs 7.2 crore, the two-storeyed complex has 40 additional rooms to accommodate the passengers and the rooms are of three-star quality and there are also few suites among them for the ones seeking more luxury. There are two conference rooms accommodating 300 to 350 and 100 to 150 people respectively with a pantry facility in the first floor. The ground floor was designed to have a restaurant, coffee shop, utility shops, ATMs, information centre and leisure room for the passengers.

Though it was expected in August, 2012 that RLDA would float tenders from interested people to run the complex, it never materialised. In spite of having state-of-the-art facility, there were no bidders and it was alleged the clauses in the contract were unrealistic.

What should have been a wonderful place to hang out during train journeys has become a den of anti-social elements, according to rail users. “When the railways was talking so much to utilise its resources, the multifunctional complex is decaying with time without seeing the light,” said member of Zonal Rail Users Consultative Committee and president of Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, N Jegatheesan.

Under these circumstances, Southern Railway general manager, Vashishta Johri who inspected the Madurai division on Thursday said that they are looking at utilizing such buildings. “Many such buildings in zonal railways are underutilized due to various factors and we are fixing them one by one,” he said.  Three years after the Multifunctional Complex was constructed at the Madurai Junction railway station and left to deteriorate, the facility may begin functioning from August – according to Additional Divisional Railway Manager, R V B Babu.  The railways has identified a new agency to operate the complex and would start functioning from there shortly, he added.