PRASA: Stations to become commercial centres

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Steve Appleton
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PRASA: Stations to become commercial centres

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From Business Day, 13 April 2011
Stations to become cash cows
THE Passenger Rail Agency of SA ( Prasa ) is partnering with property companies to redevelop 25 of its train stations in a R13bn programme, writes Nicky Smith

"We will be turning them into real commercial nodes," Prasa CEO Lucky Montana said yesterday.

The ambition is to draw consumers into the train stations even if they are not commuters, he said, referring to a recent visit to Germany, where people visit Berlin’s station to shop and dine.

The developers would be given leases with an average length of 25 years, Montana said. The agency would receive an upfront payment of 5% of the value of the leases, worth about R468m. For the duration of the lease period, Prasa would be an equal and joint partner in the projects, he said.

Once the lease expired, ownership of the property would revert to Prasa .

Prasa generates money from train fares and rent from tenants in retail spaces at stations and some of its warehouses. Prasa subsidiary Intersite has a property portfolio of 374 rail commuter stations and 4200ha of land in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria, according to Prasa ’s website.

The Intersite board agreed on Monday it needed a forensic investigation of tenants’ failure to pay rent at its train stations, Mr Montana said. An audit of Intersite’s properties revealed tenants claiming to have paid rent to the commuter rail company could not provide proof of payment. He said they were paying someone but it was not Intersite. "We will hand all outcomes from the forensic investigation to the Hawks."
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John Ashworth
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Re: PRASA: Stations to become commercial centres

Post by John Ashworth »

It probably makes sense from a commercial point of view, and is certainly the norm in many countries in the world. However having seen the growth of shops in major British railway stations I can't help having a twinge of nostalgia for the days when a station was a station, with just a kiosk or two to sell food and newspapers. Circulation space and sitting space for passengers is often sacrificed to the god of consumerism, and stations become less user-friendly for those of us who simply want to catch a train and to sit in comfort whilst waiting for it!

London's Waterloo and Euston Stations are particularly bad, as is New York's Penn Station. St Pancras Station appears to be an exception, where a really major redevelopment of the station left room for both commercial space and passenger space. Union Station in Washington DC is also one where the shops still leave room for the original function of the station.
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Steve Appleton
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Re: PRASA: Stations to become commercial centres

Post by Steve Appleton »

Same with airports. Most are really over-priced shopping centres with a parking lot for aircraft attached!
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Stefan Andrzejewski
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Re: PRASA: Stations to become commercial centres

Post by Stefan Andrzejewski »

I would like to take a little station like Gouda and turn the old railway building into a restaurant and use the people that stay around there to work in it an impower them, but working with Transnet is a mine field
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Steve Appleton
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Re: PRASA: Stations to become commercial centres

Post by Steve Appleton »

Yes. Of course most of the stations outside the urban Metrorail network belong to Transnet, not PRASA.
"To train or not to train, that is the question"
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