Jokes apart …

… but something I talked off in jocular vein last year seems to have come true today. I swear I was only half serious in imagining Nirma Rail and Surf Rail! Indian Railways have monetized the concept with launch of “Kurkure express” trains today. Seems they got around Rs 7.5 lakhs per train for the “naming” rights.

Good going as far as making money is concerned, but a bit too commercial in my opinion. However, now that they are into it, let us get constructive, fine tune the idea and suggest more to them:

  • Railways can probably make more money by selling naming rights on a daily or weekly basis. Today’s run of Mumbai Rajdhani Express is sponsored by Cadbury’s. Best bidder for the day gets to win the naming rights. Thinking further, in true BCCI style, they can sell the name as well as each run. Airtel Rajdhani express sponsored by Bisleri will arrive on platform number three!
  • Those pillows and blankets they hand you in AC coaches look too darn plain and boring. You wont mind if they give you a blinding green blanket sporting a “Liril” ad, will you? Especially if your AC ticket fare goes 20% south in return.
  • Sanitary-ware manufacturers could take over the dirty toilets in Railway coaches. This should truly be killing two birds with one stone. Clean things up, and make money too. “Thank you for using our toilet facility. You will be glad to know that your dump was sponsored by Jaguar”! How is that!?
  • How about insurance? Well, we know the risk we take each time we undertake a train journey – life, luggage, health or emotions. Might as well invite an insurance firm to “sponsor” passengers’ insurance and in turn let them do some advertising. “LIC, your proud partner for the risks you will be taking over next 26 hours”!
  • Each in-station announcement by Railways is an opportunity as well. Instead of the monotonous ‘ding-dong’, the announcements could open with branded musical interludes. Like the Airtel or Hutch signature tone. Or now-famous “hu la la la leyo“. And then the announcement – “Yaatri-gan kripaya dhyaan di-jiye, Jhumri Taliyaa express platform number teen par aane hee waalee hai“.

Alright, I did five. I bet you can do more.

PS: That picture – Darjeeling Railway Steamer – is sourced from Wikipedia. No relevance, just to add some color here.

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14 Responses

  1. The suggestoins are good. But not the announcement-ads idea please. Those guys will bore the passengers to death with repetitive announcements. Somehow the ding-dong tone sounds good. It brings you back to attention. I wish to see co-branded tickets to become a reality soon. Rlys idea of selling tickets through ATMs and Petrol Stations should get going.

  2. was fun to read:) Your suggestions may become a reality soon !!!

  3. What a tragedy. If nothing else some of those names used to sound wonderful – Frontier Mail, Grand Trunk Express, Coromandel Exp, August Kranti Rajdhani, Deccan Queen, Vikramshila Magadh Exp., Flying Ranee, Geetanjali Can go on.

    Give hoarding space, platform space, back of tickets not the blessed train name itself.

  4. Srivattsa – you are right. There are many names that should not be tampered with.

    There are so many elementary things the Rlys need to address. Really wonder why so much time, men and material should be wasted to earn a paltry Rs.7.5 lakhs, where it makes no difference to the passengers. Clean toilets, waiting lounges, hygenic catering on trains, creation of new Rly Stns, Bus Bays and parking lots are some important needs where Rlys should focus on.

  5. nice idea, though i would have gone to add a splash of colour to the rake – wonder how doable that is! then you could have reservations in the jeevan beema compartment or pepsi compartment :-).

    think what would happen if darbhanga-kurla ‘timex express’ were to run 11 hours late!!!

    if the figure is really 7.5 lakhs though, isn’t that ridiculously low, but then what exactly is the return for that investment? the way i read one of the linked articles, this is only for summer specials (maybe i did not read it properly?).

    – s.b.

  6. man they are going to kill the aura of the rayl & rale.
    some things ought to have public externals.

    just look at the list sri has given. i mean there is certain aura/awe in the idea of a rani chennamma or a flying ranee hurtling through the country side.

  7. @ Arun, I would hate that as well. As it is I hate the rage called dial-back tones, the way they force a tune on you.

    @ Shashank – Thanks but I hope not!

    @ Sri, Tarle – I agree. The names have some aura. though I didn’t understand some of them. Why does Grand Trunk Express run between Delhi and Chennai and not Delhi and Kolkata? Why does Ganga Kaveri express stop at Chennai, there is no Kaveri there? Why does Sanghmitra express not go all the way till SriLanka (Rameshwaram) – didn’t emperor Ashok send her daughter to Sinhala and not Chennai!? Why is Toofan express the slowest train running on Delhi Kolkata route? Okay, I am losing it now!! Flying Ranee, Toofan, Deccan Queen, Himsagar etc etc have some awe!

    @ s.b. – that would be funny – Timex express late, or LIC express derailing :) Yes, the Kurkure express thing is an experiment right now and only on summer specials. The talk is to extend the scheme.

  8. amusing post. timex train comment was quite funny. here’s another one – the napkin on food trays could be sponsored by digene. :-)

  9. Amusing,but scary– esp.the idea of having ads on blankets.
    Rlws should think of selling otc medicines at stations.They should make all stations senior-citizen friendly.Some platforms atill look like-‘leap at your own peril’
    people should be able to just walk-off at train as in an escalator/aerobridge.
    There should be pantry cars on all trains which take more than 12 hours to reach their destinations.All major
    railway stations should have free shuttle service to nearest bus terminus.

    They can think of getting sponsors for toilets-harpic toilets/sanifresh toilets.Currently many people wish to avoid the toilets and use Huggies though. ;)

  10. How abouit avoiding all the ads on the outside and only doing up the toilets with ads? After all, if there are cleaner toilets, they will get tons of people to see the ads, and we can retain some normalcy with the look of the train itself. And if a company sponsors ads for the toilets, I am sure, they’ll want to keep it clean too!

  11. Chitra, that is a good idea. That is one place where you are bound to get your advertising message through. And in turn, we get cleaner toilets as well :)

    BTW, as per a business-standard note late March, Pepsi, Coke and Dabur (Haajmola express !?) were in the fray for train branding rights, and Railways talked up Rs 4000 Cr as the revenue target from these sources.

  12. For a clean toilet I am willing to listen to a whole advertisement lasting 3 minutes.
    And I love the sponsored blankets idea!

  13. BTW, part of this deal for Kurkure Express involves the sponsor’s responsibility to keep the coaches of the train clean. THey will have 2-3 of their authorised cleaners to be on the train equipped with (this I cannot understand) a broom and a bucket to maintain the cleanliness of the compartments. But I wonder how they will manage with just a broom and bucket! Our compartments need much more powerful ammunition to get cleaned.

  14. Yep, broom and bucket wont be enough MP. Do you think fining those who generate trash should be a part of cleanliness drive as well? May be the TTEs should take over this responsibility. Once they get those mobile gadgets to track booked tickets, they may have some time on hand.

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