|Getting back on track|
|Thursday, 20 April 2017 04:41|
Good start on non-fare revenues, but still a way to go
Amid the steady worsening of Railways finances—the operating ratio for FY17 collapsed to 97 as against the original target of 92—the news of a 70% hike in non-fare revenue is heartening. This rose to Rs 10,181 crore in FY17, as against Rs 5,928 crore during FY16—as a share of total revenues, this is up from 3.6% to 6.2%. And with tenders to be put out soon for over 2 lakh screens across 2,000 railway stations across the country, this should pick up further, though the fact that the total out-of-home advertisement market is projected to be under `3,000 crore this year, there is a ceiling to just how much the Railways can achieve. Theoretically, a lot more money can be made from station redevelopment—a separate non-fare revenue directorate was set up in the Railway Board last year—but it is best to be cautious and await the results of the first phase of 23 stations chosen for this; in some cases, the Railways is even offering viability gap funding for redevelopment, so how this scheme takes off will depend upon a lot of parameters including the ability to get all relevant permissions in cities like Delhi that are more lucrative. How far the non-fare revenue efforts have to go can be seen from the fact that, five years ago, Dinesh Trivedi had set a 30%-of-revenue target.