In a bid to bring its tottering non-fare revenue policy back on its feet, the Railway Board has now asked zones to leverage virtually every inch of railway property to generate funds through advertisements on a “mission mode”. Indian Railways’ plans to generate Rs 39,000 crore from non-fare sources over 10 years has been a damp squib. In terms of earnings, after the initial burst of generating revenue of Rs 10,338 crore in 2016-2017, things slowed down to Rs 8,600 crore against a target of Rs 14,000 crore in 2017-2018. In 2018-2019 till April, the revenue has crawled to Rs 32.65 crore against a target of Rs 1200 crore.
“You would be aware of the pressing need to generate non-fare revenues. Besides other measures, leveraging spaces at railway stations for improving passenger comfort and generating additional revenue could give quick results,” Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said in his letter dated July 12, adding that zones should make a “realistic assessment” of the likely additional revenues that can be generated and send monthly reports to him on the issue. Lohani in his letter has asked zones to leverage every inch of railway property to generate revenue through advertisements – from its platforms, circulating areas, benches, walls of toilets, foot overbridges, linen packets, interior and exterior of coaches to charging for usage of air-conditioned waiting rooms.
The national transporter has already withdrawn tenders for out-of-home (OOH) advertisements and advertisements on trains owing to a “low industry response” and “technical reasons”. OOH included station areas, overbridges, underbridges, level-crossing gates, railway colonies, workshops, production units, and railway land along tracks. These initiatives would have added at least Rs 82.5 billion to its revenues over 10 years. “It is of essence that zonal railways move forward in a mission mode to generate non-fare revenue,” Lohani said.