Western Railways allows on-board Shopping on Trains

MUMBAI: Passengers aboard long-distance trains starting in Mumbai will soon enjoy a shopping experience similar to the one found on flights. The Western Railway (WR) has finalised the contract to allow shopping carts on board 16 trains and will roll out the facility in January. It will be the first such initiative in the Indian Railways.

The contractor will have to pay the WR ₹40,000 per train per month as licence fee. Each train will have two salespersons with a shopping cart. They will be in uniform and will be equipped with point of sale machines to facilitate credit and debit cards. They will also provide catalogues, which passengers can browse through before placing an order.

Once it is launched, the WR expects to earn ₹3.66 crore in five years. Chief public relations officer Ravinder Bhakar said the licensee will not be allowed to sell food and contraband. “The salespersons will be allowed only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. They won’t be able to promote their products using a microphone or by shouting,” he said.

Initially, the contractor will begin the service on two trains and will add two more every subsequent quarter. Railway officials said the first trains have not yet been decided, but one of them could be the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express.

“The licensee will have the discretion to choose the trains at the end of each quarter. However, once a train has been selected, he cannot change it,” an official said.

The initiative is part of the WR’s effort to generate non-fare revenue. The Mumbai division of the WR will soon be placing another tender under the same bucket for on-board entertainment on long-distance passenger and local trains.