Commuter Rail - Station air space could give 2000 Crores/year

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Commuter RailPublic Transport

There is air space available above all railway stations in Bangalore. What if some stations can be utilized as a source of income by the PPP or SPV operating Commuter Rail Service in Bangalore? What would the numbers look like? Tried doing some, and came close to Rs 2000 Crores per year. Here are the calculations for everyone to poke holes and correct.

Key assumptions: Platform length 1200 - 1400 ft, minimum width of station 100 ft.

Station Type Length Width Area Lease Rate (Rs/sqft) Rent/Floor/Month (Rs Lakhs) Floors Yearly (Rs Crore)
Super Large 1400 400 560000 50 280 10 336
Large 1400 250 350000 50 175 6 126
Medium 1200 150 180000 40 72 4 34.56
Small 1200 100 120000 30 36 4 17.28

Next, Totals (in Rs Crore) assuming a particular mix of station type. Whitefield, Yeshwantpur examples of super large. Hebbal, Nynadahalli, Kengeri, Yelahanka examples of Large:

Station Type Count Yearly income Total (Rs Crore)
Super Large 3 336 1008
Large 5 126 630
Medium 8 34.56 276.48
Small 10 17.28 172.8
Tota     2087.28


  • There might be a perception that there isn't enough money in Namma Railu for state or private parties to be interested. Real estate above stations could be one big source.


Station air space - highly optimistic ?

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Whilst this idea of commercialization of air space above stations sounds good in theory, I don't think it will attract many - neither within railways to go for it nor corporates. This is because office space above train stations might not seem so attractive due to frequent train movements & some loss of corporate identity.

Even in larger rail networks such as those in New York, there are very few station complexes that have benefitted with commercialization. Examples are Penn station & Grand Central in Manhattan & Exchange place in New Jersey, but then these are sort of central areas, probably similar to Majestic.

The central stations in London (St.Pancras) & Berlin (Hauptbahnhoff) have commercialization, but these are mostly related to travel, ticketing, tourism & fast food, not office spaces.

All the same, some stations such as those at Cantt, Yesvantapur & Baiyyappanahalli (when it does get expanded) might attract some commercial interests though top notch corporates might not really show much interest, thus, rentals might not be all that high.

This is similar to the TTMCs that are being built by BMTC - interest in leasing or utlilizing spaces will remain poor & confined to smaller players, petty shops, etc. that will result in poor rental yields.

Better accessibility is the draw

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Definitely get your point about 'identity', though thats the one that can be erased via promise of of better experience via quality stations and modern rakes. But I am not sure about the problem of sound/vibration etc - these days, construction technology should provide good sound insulation to the floors above.

Accessibility would be the main draw. Isn't there a lack of quality and better accessible Real Estate options for the other (beyond 'top notch', I am sure you meant IT companies) aka tier-II companies who could be happy to get a commuter friendly place?

I wouldn't rule this RE option out, and would want to think of what it will take to make this RE attractive.

Mindsets need changing too

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For starters, we have Big bazaar operating out of Shantinagar TTMC ! Such value stores, banks, insurance firms, etc are probably distinct possibilities for sure, apart from fast food, drug store & the usual mix of various petty businesses.

If train services begin to see large patronage by the middle & upper middle classes, higher value stores will also begin to see sense in locating at stations or at least those stations that offer good business potential.

Above all, the view that stations are only for passenger & related services must be changed & people must accept the fact that transport services of any kind need various other forms of income to make them viable & cost efficient - actually, in India, we are way behind & still firmly rooted against such thinking & have gotten used to bleeding public services. If this is overcome, I think commercialization will follow & make far better progress.

Navi Mumbai model?

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There might be a perception that there isn't enough money in Namma Railu for state or private parties to be interested. Real estate above stations could be one way.

Great idea, Pranav. And the best part about it is that we already have a model to follow here - the Navi Mumbai suburban railway system, developed by CIDCO, which has exploited the space above and around railway stations in a similar manner to what you have proposed. Massive commercial complexes have come up above and around several of the stations there.

A couple of reports on the system:

Navi Mumbai was planned as a metro-sized modern urban settlement, with a series of 14 polycentric townships called nodes strung along a mass rapid transit corridor with a central business district at the heart. It is projected that the area has the capacity to hold a population of four million and provide a million jobs. Additionally, CIDCO is developing Asia's largest Agriculture Produce and Market Complex in Navi Mumbai. It has constructed 1,200 residential spaces called "intelligent housing", as fibre optic cables have been installed at the time of construction so that Internet and cable connection can be provided on tap. (...) The corporation is also involved in setting up a Mass Rapid Transit System along with the Indian Railways in Navi Mumbai. It constructed 15 railway stations on modern lines, which have become landmarks in Navi Mumbai and its surrounding areas. (read more here)

For those who still have to commute to Mumbai, the Government has set up a mass rapid transit system. This covers 200 km; spread over six rail corridors and 30 stations. The corridors connect Navi Mumbai with Mumbai and Thane. 

Important design features of railway station complex
Double discharge platforms.
Pedestrian/Vehicular subways for through traffic.
Platform subways (2 nos.) for commuters in place of FOB.
Aesthetically designed station complexes.
Well planned circulating and ticketing area.
Provision for movement of physically challenged persons.
Adequate parking space for cycles, two & four wheelers

(read more, including design details of various stations, here)


View some pictures of the stations and associated infrastructure in Navi Mumbai here (keep moving to the right of the photostream to see more photos). Also note that all railway infrastructure in Navi Mumbai was constructed on a JV basis between CIDCO and IR (67:33 share). Perhaps something similar in Bangalore would work wonders for our city.



Manish - Thanks

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Thanks for detailed info about Navi Mumbai - I am a frequent visitor to Mumbai & Navi Mumbai & know the area well. Rail connectivity between Navi Mumbai & Mumbai is quite good now, though frequencies were poor earlier. Some stations such as Vashi are getting run down & are poorly maintained, but serve thousands of people.

Unfortunately, Karnataka has been unable to get such development done by the railways & has been ignored very badly. The politicians also have not been pressurizing enough for acquiring a commuter rail system for bangalore & it's suburbs, though there has been a crying need for a system from a long, long time.

We have seen how Chandrababu naidu got the MMTS for Hyderabad successfully & also it's expansion now to a full fledged service for that city, whilst our leaders are merely paying lip service despite the presence of a substantial network of tracks.

The tussle continues here & we, as concerned citizens are perhaps the only ray of hope to fight for a system since SWR continues to maintain adamantly that their tracks are already full for utilization of inter-city services.

Example of space being used above a station

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Visit this link for more details You will find that a swanky 42 storyed building hosting some of the country's (US) biggest companies is built on a railway station in central Dallas.

I agree that the station is underground but I have personally used this station to get to work while on assignment...

just my contribution to the conversation and my comment that unless we think out of the box like folks in the west have done - ideas will never be born! nice idea silkboard

Thanks Clive, Manish

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Air space above stations should be carrot enough to attract private party interest, at least thats the theory some of us have.

Once you generate this interest, it won't be just us regular joes lobbying for Commuter Rail in geeky forums liks this one. Railway's unwillingness, and state government's too are some hurdles, but these hurdles could be crossed if we can encourage private parties to see green and take up this cause.