The journey on board premium trains, such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi, will soon be entertaining for passengers. It has been learnt that tenders for content on demand (CoD) and rail radio (RR) services will be floated next week. It is expected to be rolled out in a phased manner by next year.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Railways released the CoD and RR policy.
According to officials, the rationale behind the policy was to augment non-fare revenue, by monetising entertainment-based services on trains and stations. The policy had earmarked a contract period of 10 years. It was proposed to allow contracted parties to provide content like movies and TV shows, with a revenue of more than `6,000 crore expected to be generated by the end of contract period.
The ministry had appointed RailTel, a public sector enterprise owned by Railways, as the nodal agency to carry out the process. Speaking to Express, a RailTel official said the tender documents have been finalised and bids will be opened next week. The applicants can be a consortium, comprising of individual content providers. “It is expected that the tendering process will take around three months. We hope to start work from August,” the official said.
The CoD and RR will be provided through personal devices of passengers. “There will be a library of digital content listing audio and video shows. Users can choose to watch any content, paid or free,” the official explained.
The service will first be made available on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto. Railways has launched a series of initiatives, including advertising and branding, to increase non-fare revenue, to offset the dependence on earnings from the passenger and freight segment. Although total earnings from the passenger segment in 2016-2017 is estimated to be around `47,400 crore, officials say it did not match projections.