Indian Railways to provide aircraft-style entertainment! Soon rail passengers will be able to enjoy movies, entertainment and much more on Indian Railways trains and stations. Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry has chosen RailTel, a miniratna under the national transporter, to implement this project aimed at providing free content on-demand to passengers. A railway official told Financial Express Online that a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued by RailTel within the first few days of August. The free app will allow Indian Railways passengers to stream movies, news and other entertainment-related content on their personal devices.
"RailTel will provide preloaded multilingual content; movies, music videos, general entertainment including TV serials and devotional programmes, lifestyle-related etc in moving trains. In case of trains, to ensure buffer-free services, media servers will be placed," said the railway official quoted above. "Passengers will be able to enjoy high-quality buffer-free streaming across personal devices and the content will be periodically refreshed," the official added.
To begin with, the pilot project will involve the provision of the preloaded content on Indian Railways stations that already offer RailTel’s free high-speed WiFi service. As Indian Railways completes its ambitious plan to enable WiFi on over 4,000 more stations this year, content on-demand app would be available on these as well and eventually trains!
Indian Railways experimented with aircraft-style on-board infotainment in trains like Tejas Express and Anubhuti coaches for the Shatabdi Express. However, passengers damaged the personalised screens and stole headphones on the inaugural run of the Mumbai-Goa Tejas Express itself. The national transporter has now decided that the use of passengers’ personal devices would be a more viable option, especially for long-distance sleeper trains where personalised screens are more difficult to install.
While the preloaded content made available to passengers would be free, Indian Railways hopes to earn revenue from advertisements that can be displayed on the landing pages and in pre-rolls of videos. The initiative is a step in the direction of earning non-fare revenue. The project has been in the works for some time now. Initially, RailTel was supposed to execute it, but the Railway Board tasked the zonal railways to implement it. However, that failed to take off and now RailTel has been roped in again.