In a move to raise revenue from non-ticketing sources, the Indian Railways has announced that it will deploy a total of over 2 lakh screens for all 2,175 railway stations in India through which it will generate advertising revenue. The proposed Rail Display Network (RDN) is seen as a crucial step in interfacing with commuters and could result in the establishment of the biggest visual advertisement platform after television advertising.
Massive digital screens will be installed in all major railway stations across India, displaying passenger and train information in addition to advertisements. So far, Google, Microsoft, and Reliance have shown interest in the proposition and its potential to generate advertising revenue. Google has also expressed its interest in participating in the project and developing advertising technology as well.
Stage one of the plan will focus on the busiest 400 stations in the country – christened ‘A category’ – starting in May, when the tender is expected to be announced. The screens will be controlled through the cloud ensuring minimal technical errors.
A state-run undertaking functioning under the Railways, called Railtel, has been tasked with establishing the necessary optical fibre cable network and back-end technical infrastructure to support the RDN project.
As a Proof of Concept (PoC), Indian Railways has installed screens of various sizes at the Gorakhpur, Gwalior, Varanasi, and Old Delhi stations.
Through advertising, the Indian Railways could generate upward of Rs.10,000 crore in revenue, which is a sizeable amount when considering the major source of revenue so far has only been through ticket sales.