NEW DELHI: Ever wondered how it would be if trains and stations were rechristened Pepsi Rajdhani Express, Coca Cola Shatabdi Express and McDonald’s New Delhi Railway Station? Well, this may soon become a reality as the Railway Board is exploring branding of important trains and Railway stations to improve financial health of Indian Railways.
Also on the tables is having ad-wrapped trains by which idle space in coaches, wagons, trains, railway stations, consumable items, utensils, beddings, railways foot over bridges and walls leading to railways station can be used. A task force under the Chairmanship of Member Traffic, Railway Board, is already exploring all the measures listed by RITES, a public sector undertaking of Ministry of Railway.
The task force has held several meetings and will be holding some in Mumbai later this month to chart out a strategy of taking these ideas forward along with key private players. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has in December 2014 asked the RITES to prepare a concept note for efficiently using the idle railway space.
RITES in its report had suggested that railways has potential to earn `10,000 crore a year just by selling space for advertising in coaches, wagons and stations among others. It also suggested a Comprehensive Commercial Publicity Policy be formulated by the railways ministry for tapping the potential. There have been unsuccessful attempts on similar lines by previous rail ministers in the past but they failed to take off.
“Having branded trains is a very innovative concept and it will not matter to passengers if name of train they are travelling in is changed. Experts in advertising sector have told RITES that there are good chances of railways making huge money just by branding trains as Pepsi Rajdhani or Coca Cola Shatabdi. Serious discussion are happening in the Railway Board and private players have shown great interest in it,” said a senior railways ministry official.
According to the railways, for the first time a structured process has been initiated and there are chances of it taking off in days to come. The outreach of publicising on trains is enormous as 2.3 crore people -- entire population of Australia -- travel by train every year.
In a move to improve financial health of the cash-strapped government behemoth, the NDA government is banking upon privatisation by allowing 100 per cent FDI in railways through automatic route in several areas, including high speed trains.