Railways drops live TV, Net plan for Shatabdis

Written by Rajat Arora | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 3 2012, 09:35am hrs
The Indian Railways has dropped its ambitious plan of providing live TV service and Internet on Shatabdi trains after it failed to get any response from private players. Last year, the railways had come up with the plan of installing seven-inch LCD screens in Delhi-bound Shatabdi trains on a PPP model and had invited bids.

The idea was to provide free of cost value-added service to Shatabdi passengers and allow service providers to air advertisement and share a part of the ad revenue with the railways, said a senior official.

The railways had planned to provide this service on all Delhi-bound Shatabdi trains by the end of last fiscal year, but wasnt able to do so because of technical delays. The railways conducted a trial run in Kalka Shatabdi before deciding to introduce it in other trains.

There were no technical delays but the contractor didnt find the project viable as 20% airtime for advertising was too less for them to survive. The project involved high maintenance and service cost and the advertisers, despite getting captive audience, werent excited about spending on this service, said another official, requesting anonymity. RK associates, one railways' biggest caterers and also the owner of Comesum chain of restaurants, were to implement this project, he added.

In first phase, the railways had planned to introduce this service on eight trains and after that the project was to be replicated in air-conditioned chair cars of other elite and high-speed trains. The railways had also planned to provide value-added services such as Internet, facilities for making ticket reservations and hotels and cab bookings.

I dont think there would be any such plan even in near future as the service can be viable only when we charge from passengers, the official added.