New Delhi: You could soon be boarding a ‘Pepsi Rajdhani’ or ‘Coke Shatabdi’ and from a “branded” station at that. The railways have readied a plan to brand trains and stations to augment revenues without raising passenger fares or freight rates.
The proposal is ready and is expected to get the approval of the railway board next week. Under the new policy, a company can buy consolidated media rights for branding the entire train. It can then advertise both inside and outside the bogies.
“The railways has shunned the earlier approach of selling advertisement rights on a piece-meal basis and is ready with plans to award media rights for the entire train (both inside and outside) and stations on a long-term basis to big corporate players,” said a senior official.
The plan was accelerated after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a recent meeting, asked the railway brass to mop up revenues from alternative sources like tapping advertisement potential.
Similar plans were announced during the previous UPA governments, but they did not materialise. PM Modi, who often recalls his childhood days as a tea-seller on railway platforms, has been insisting on modernisation of the Railways with focus on worldclass stations and increasing revenue without additional burden on passengers.
Faced with a financial crunch, the state-run transporter is desperate to scramble funds through advertisements because a hike in passenger fares+ is ruled out for the time being, given upcoming assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh+ and Punjab.
The transporter has set an ambitious target of raising around Rs 2,000 crore in ‘nonfare’ revenue. Late last year, the railways sold rights for vinyl wrapping advertisements on the exteriors of four trains with an aim to earn over Rs 8 crore in a year. The trains included Mumbai Rajdhani, August Kranti Rajdhani, Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi and Ahmedabad-Mumbai double-decker.
An official said the new policy will offer out-of-home advertising policy and allow monetisation of railway assets by means of advertising. Huge LED screens will come up at stations, platforms and foot overbridges (leading to station areas) for advertising.