Railways to Mop Up resources through Advertisements

नई दिल्ली New Delhi: In an attempt to mop up additional resources, railway minister Suresh Prabhu has pushed a plan for generating funds through advertisements. The minister has directed RITES, a railway PSU, to quickly study and prepare a concept note, indicating ways and means for leveraging space in coaches, wagons and railway stations for advertisements, publicity and other purposes.

The minister has asked that the note be prepared at the earliest, preferably by Wednesday.

There are over 7,500 stations across the country while as many as 11,000 passenger trains and over 6,000 goods trains criss-cross the nation every day- which have huge advertising potential.

Prabhu’s predecessors, too, tried to generate funds through advertising, but could not succeed.

During Mamata Banerjee’s tenure, advertising and branding were significant focus areas as the transporter planned to raise ad revenue 10-fold in one year to Rs 1,000 crore. Even during Lalu Prasad’s tenure, the transporter tried to mop up funds through advertising.

Selling advertising space was not just restricted to signboards but also tickets, reservation charts, benches and pillars. A unique concept of 360-degree advertising solution that included on-board train branding was also devised.

The plan included providing advertising space to companies, not just on the outside but also inside, on the bed linen and on plasma screens in railway compartments.

Even a report by CAG in 2013 had pointed out that railways can make much more money by selling branding rights on stations, trains and tickets.

However, the auditor had pulled up the Railway Board for setting up high revenue projections without inputs from the ground.

For instance, by selling branding rights on the stations, trains, wagon depots, tickets, reservation forms, the railways garnered Rs 864 crore from 2008 to 2012. This was much less than the earnings target of Rs 1,000 crore set in just one year of 2010-11.