This week, Pune Railway Station became the second station of Indian Railways, after Habibganj in Bhopal, to get a private ‘facility manager’ as the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) signed an agreement with the Bharat Vikas Group (BVG), making the company responsible for various maintenance works at the station. The Indian Express explains what this step means for passengers
What exactly does IRSDC do?
In 2012, Indian Railways had formed IRSDC as a government undertaking that will work for modernisation of railway stations by functioning as a project manager and raising funds from the market. The first big project that the IRSDC undertook was the redevelopment of Habibganj railway station, by awarding a contract to a private player for redevelopment of the station, a Rs 450-crore project, and maintenance for eight years.
Following this, IRSDC announced that it will soon award contracts to ‘facility manager’ firms for management of five stations — Pune, Bengaluru, Secunderabad, Anand Vihar (in New Delhi) and Chandigarh. The IRSDC has signed an agreement for Pune Railway Station and also handed it over to BVG, the ‘facility manager’. IRSDC intends to do the same for 27 other stations.
What will BVG do?
As per the agreement signed between IRSDC and BVG, the private agency will act as ‘facility manager’ for Pune station for a period of three years, and the contract can be extended for three more years.
BVG will be responsible for the following: garbage collection, segregation and disposal, landscaping maintenance, pest control and disinfection, management of parking, management of advertisement, management of commercial areas under the Commercial Development Assets, repair and maintenance of buildings, platforms and its shelter, roads, parking area, subways, provision of waste water collection, treatment and disposal system and management of water supply system. “BVG may do this on its own or by appointing sub-contractors for various facilities,” said a Central Railway official.
Which duties are beyond the BVG’s mandate?
The facility manager will not be responsible for the following: train management, dispatch, reception or stabling of engines and trains, operation and maintenance of overhead equipment, operation and maintenance of signalling, security and access control services, parcel/luggage handling services, including any porter services in the station, sale of tickets, refunds and reservation system and on-board catering and other services on trains.
Although BVG will not be responsible for sale of tickets in general, platform tickets may be an exception. “We may act as a facilitator for sale of platform tickets. The charges will remain the same… We will collect the revenue and hand it over to the railway agency,” said a BVG official.
Will facilities at Pune station become more expensive?
Central Railway officials said the present contracts for parking, food stalls and other services will continue until they expire. After the end of the contracts, BVG will take over the work or will appoint a sub-contractor for the same.
“The rates for various facilities will remain the same as the rates for facilities and amenities as decided by the Railway Board, and the facility manager or the sub-contractor will have to abide by it. The food malls and restaurants are managed by IRCTC and they will remain under their control. Legal hawkers and tea stalls will be managed by the facility manager,” said the CR official.
He said all the maintenance work will be undertaken by the private player under the supervision of the station director and other railway officials.
A BVG official said the group has a “proven track record in the field of facility management”. “… Facility management is our core area and you will see a marked difference in the passenger experience in a few months. We have signed the contract and our work at Pune station will start from February 22,” said a senior BVG official.