In welcome news for suburban commuters who wish to park vehicles outside railway stations, spare railway land next to nine more Central Railway (CR) stations will have pay and park services. The CR authorities have floated tenders to invite contractors for parking facilities at Vasind (East and West), Igatpuri, Khopoli, Kasara, Panvel, Badlapur and Roha.
The decision was prompted by the earnings raked in after railway land lying unused near other stations was utilised for paid parking a few years ago. The scheme yielded an annual profit of Rs 2.49 crore through 24 contracts. The railways periodically float tenders, with predetermined terms and conditions, for giving out their land to contractors for parking facilities in lieu of a fixed fee. For instance, they will be charging contractors
Rs 1.96 lakh per annum for an area of 1,458 sq m in Khopoli and Rs 22.66 lakh for 3,020 sq m in Panvel.
“Though we fix the amount the contractors have to pay us, the parking rate is decided by them as per their convenience. They will obviously charge fee in a manner that allows them to recover the amount they are required to pay us,” said a senior CR official on the condition of anonymity. At present, the railways have 24 contracts at several railway stations including Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Kurla, Mulund, Mumbra, Dombivli, Kalyan, Shahad etc.
According to officials, converting the unused land into parking lots will be beneficial for passengers, since it will do away with the risk of larceny and damage to vehicles by allowing for parking inside the railway premises. Commuters are thankful for the idea. But the prospective convenience is marred by arbitrary parking charges that contractors ask for, they say. Ranjit Kumar from Kharghar said, “There is ample space near the station, but the parking fee is very high. The railways should homogenise charges across all stations. Right now, contractors fix the fee as per their whim, and even if it is exorbitant, we have no option but to pay up.”
A K Singh, public relations officer, CR said, “The pay and park system is getting a good response from passengers. We get suggestions from them regarding the stations where they require parking. We are also getting a good revenue, which is used for additional amenities for commuters.” He added that proposals for the pay and parking scheme are also underway at Karjat, Ulhasnagar, Pen, Titwala etc.