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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Railway Real Estate Gets New Managers

Some of the country's major train stations could undergo a radical revamp after a new management arm set up to run the stations began operating at the start of April, Russian Railways said in a statement Friday.

The new directorate will have 324 stations under its control, which is equivalent to 7 percent of the total number of stations in the country.

Accounting for 84 percent of passenger traffic, the stations falling under the directorate's control represent some of the most attractive real estate in the country, including the Leningradsky, Kazansky and Yaroslavsky stations on Komsomolskaya Ploshchad.

In a move that could see the addition of shopping malls and other facilities along European lines, Russian Railways is set to hold a tender to sell off the rights to manage stations to private investors, the company said in a statement.

The results of the tender will be announced in November, the statement said.

Russian Railways would maintain a controlling stake in the stations, a report in Vedomosti said on Friday.

The company is looking to bring on board major investors capable of pumping considerable sums into the stations, the newspaper said.

"We envision the need to change the very understanding of what a train station is," Russian Railways vice president Mikhail Akulov said in a statement.

"To do this we will have to redirect the work of the train stations, making them more innovative, functional, reliable and comfortable, by essentially widening the sphere of goods and services," the statement said.

Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin said the proposals would see European standards of service introduced at Russian train stations, Itar-Tass reported Sunday.

"We are not satisfied with the level of service at our railway stations," he said. "It is necessary to do our utmost to make passengers feel at home in railway stations. We must make everything clear for passengers."

Yakunin emphasized the need to standardize rents and company policy across the country.

"We need to prevent such situations as when leasing one square meter at a railway station costs $300 in one place and $3,000 fifteen meters away," he said.

Currently, Russian Railways earns only a fraction of the money it could from renting out floor space at train stations around the country.

According to Russian Railways statistics, cited by Vedomosti, approximately 100 million people pass through the three main train stations on Komsomolskaya Ploshchad each year.