The Centre is working on the formation of Railway Stations Authority of India on the lines of Airports Authority of India to develop modern railway stations across the country with advanced amenities, Union Minister Dinesh Trivedi said in Bhopal on Thursday.
"We have already announced constitution of a Railway Stations Authority of India on the lines of AAI to develop modern railway stations with all facilities.
"The drawing board is ready and once other formalities are over, its chairman, managing director and other officials too would be announced," Trivedi told reporters here after inspecting the Habibganj railway station.
Asked whether he will make this announcement in the next Railway Budget, Trivedi said there was no point in waiting until then. "It is a continuous process and we are working on it. Rail budget is just a one-day affair while we have to continuously plan for this in remaining 364 days."
The Railways Minister arrived in New Delhi on Thursday morning for a meeting with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other members of Parliament to discuss ways for expansion of railway facilities in MP.
To a question on plans to create world-class railway stations, he said the Ministry is working towards it.
"Any station can be called as world-class only when it has facilities at par with at least modern airports.
"World-class is a concept. It should have duty-free shops, library, neat and clean rooms and hotels among others," Trivedi said.
He said the Railways can work on the PPP model to create such facilities as it has a lot of land in its kitty and can enter into partnerships with large companies who can invest capital in such projects.
Trivedi said income from other sources need to be enhanced to raise the revenue of Railways.
Citing an example of Japan, he said, "Railways in that country generates 40 per cent income from other sources on the basis of PPP models and here also we have to think on that lines.
"Stations like Borivali, CST, Chennai, New Delhi and Howrah among others could prove to be goldmines for Railways."
Speaking on the financial status of the Railways, Trivedi said, "we have to be a visionary to raise railways income and that cannot be achieved by merely raising train fares.
"By raising passenger fares the Railways may earn Rs 2000-3000 crore (Rs 20-30 billion), but its requirement is Rs three lakh crore," he said.
"Our requirement is of an ocean, while by raising fares we will only get a drop," he said.
Trivedi said out of the 149 projects that the Railways are currently working on, only 14 are 'economically viable' while rest are 'socially desirable' and therefore, they cannot be left alone.
Railways are competent to do all this and there is no crisis, he said.
Asked about poor rail network in Madhya Pradesh, he said not just rail, but also there is no air network in the state and he would raise the issue with Chouhan during his meeting later in the day.
He suggested that the state can become partner with the Railways by providing land free of cost to it for development of rail facilities in Madhya Pradesh.