New Delhi: Staring at a loss of over Rs 40,000 crore in the passenger business, the Indian Railways is going ahead full steam to tap into its largely unused advertisement potential.
Sources say the national transporter will now seriously allow all rail engines to be used for corporate branding, a revenue opportunity that has been considered the past but has not taken off fully.
Adani and Amul are among the first few entities who have lapped up the offer to showcase their products on locomotives. Besides locomotives, wagons are also available for advertisement now as part of the non-fare revenue initiatives.
Though the Railways has huge potential to use its space for advertising as it has more than 6,000 stations across the country while 13,000 trains run daily on its vast network of 65,000 km of track and carry 23 million passengers, it is yet to be fully realised.
Earlier, the Railways had allowed advertisements on coaches through vinyl wrapping as part of its stepped-up efforts to increase its non-fare revenue in 2016.
In fact, the transporter had set a target of Rs 10,000 crore a year for the non-fare revenue in 2016. However, the offer did not elicit a good response and the non-fare revenue remained at its lowest with negligible collections.
Barring a few, not many private players came forward to use coaches as their ad vehicles and the public transporter reeling under the dismal financial scenario had to revisit the policy.
“Currently, the non-fare revenue is not even 5% of its total revenue of railways,” said a senior Railway official and added, “there is a need to pursue it vigorously.”
Railways have written to all states to use trains as their ad mediums to showcase their tourist spots, welfare schemes and successful ventures.
Recently, the Assam government came forward to showcase “Awesome Assam”, its tourism destinations on three trains. While coaches of some North-bound trains were used for attracting tourists to Sangam during the Kumbh fair in Allahabad, a few trains originating from Bihar also carried Madhubani paintings through vinyl wrappings.
The non-fare revenue policy allows coaches to be covered with vinyl wrappings while locomotives will be painted only and wagons are to be pasted with stickers for advertisement.
Railways are charging Rs 1.98 lakh per year for branding products on an engine and about Rs 50 lakh per year for all coaches of the train for branding products.
Vinyl wrapping is allowed below the window of the coaches while the locos have to be painted in such a way that the train number is clearly visible, said the official.
Asked about the response from the industry for advertising on locomotives, the official said that so far Adani and Amul have come forward and a few more private players are expected to join soon.
The Wire has reached out to the Adani Group for comment, and this story will be updated if and when a response is received.
Besides generating revenue from advertisements, railways has undertaken a concerted drive to rope in private players into the passenger business.
The total receipts of railways are kept at Rs 2,16,935 cr which include Rs 56,000 cr from passenger earnings Rs 1,43,000 cr from goods for the current fiscal.
Arun Kumar Das can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org