Notwithstanding the sudden growth witnessed by civil aviation sector in the past few years, railways continue to remain life line of the country.
With 6,984 railway stations, railways not only reach every nook and corner of the country (well almost) but also connect supply centers of rural India to consumption centers of urban India. While, 14,300 trains running every day, offer best meeting points for a cross section of people, more than 13 million passangers travelling a day offer an unparalleled sales opportunity. Also, the 63,028 route kilometers of tracks, if exploited efficiently, could provide one of the best logistic networks available anywhere in the world.
Add to this, the availibility of 44,000 hactares of vacant land and you get the full picture of what railways can do for the growth of retail in the country.
No wonder then that all big ticket retailers, like Reliance, Bharatis, Birlas and Pantaloon, who are working on setting up pan-India retail networks, are all lining up to ally with the railways to exploit both the front-end and the back end opportunities being offered by the railways . According to a Business Standard report, the retailers are exploring possibilities, with the railway authorities, of setting up ware houses and cold chain along the railway’s network. The railways too look at retail as an emerging opportunity from which to begin with they are expecting to garner four percent of their revenues next year.
A clear policy framework is likely to emerge soon from the railways for use of the land, especially in retail and warehousing, after discussions with the corporate houses. They have already set up the Rail Land Development Authority this year for this purpose.