Corporates calling to brand Kolkata metro stations

KOLKATA: A day after Metro Railway general manager M C Chauhan expressed interest in increasing revenue by branding stations, keen corporate houses on Friday started calling up to ask about the scheme.

Metro has started working out the details of how much corporates will be charged for exclusive advertising rights at the stations as it wants to increase non-fare revenue by March 2016-17. But neither will there be any change in the names of the stations nor will the corporates get to prefix or suffix their names to that of the stations. “We have been trying to provide more passenger amenities and this involves expenditure. Metro hasn’t revised fares in a long time and we are trying to supplement our earnings through non-fare revenue sources. We aren’t planning to change the names of the stations. A bank and a corporate house has approached us. While we will shortly invite expressions of interest for station branding, consultations will be held with stakeholders, including the state, before taking a final decision,” said Indrani Banerjee, CPRO, Metro Railway.

The Metro’s decision has elicited mixed reactions from eminent Kolkatans, most of whom seemed comfortable with the idea “so long as the station names were not tampered with”. Author Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay felt it was important to upgrade stations, without adding to the names, but painter Samir Aich was against corporate sponsorships. According to him, it was the Metro’s responsibility to take care of its stations. G M Kapur, state convernor of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, felt one could not deny the importance of corporate sponsorship but advised caution when it came to allowing signages at stations.

Fashion designer Agnimitra Paul thought it was a great idea: “You see corporate branding and dazzling Metro stations across the world. In some cities, Metro stations are as swanky as airports. Times have changed and we must re-model our thoughts.”

Industrialists Sanjay Budhia and Harsh Neotia welcomed the proposal as well. “If Metro is in good condition, it will help commuters. The proposal can lead to a win-win situation for all. Metro will earn more, commuters will get better services and corporates grab eyeballs,” said Budhia. Neotia felt the move could lead to cleaner, brighter stations. “It would make sense if stations adjoining malls are branded,” he said.

Adman Ram Ray said it would be of great value to all if the proposal was properly implemented. “It’s an old proposal. Value can be derived by all parties, Metro, commuters and advertisers,” he said.

Credits ET Realty

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