Indian railway stations are no strangers to scenes of great passion. In Pakeezah, Raaj Kumar sees Meena Kumari’s feet peeping put from the train berth and is instantly smitten. In DDLJ, Raj was nearly gone forever, until Simran ran after him across the platform to be with her one true love. And in Chennai Express, Rahul helps a sprinting Meenamma onto the moving Chennai Express.
Now the Indian Railways is giving ordinary people a chance to script their love stories on the unlikeliest of places. In a bid to earn extra revenue from unconventional sources, the Railways let the public hold wedding receptions on its platforms. The Western Railway is likely to implement the plan on a railway platform at the Surat station, and a proposal will be sent to the rail ministry this week, Deccan Chronicle reported.
“Surat station is massive, and there are people there who would actually pay to have their wedding receptions or parties on platforms as well. We will propose platform no. 4 for the project as it has two-three booking offices, which is ideal for these kind of functions,” a senior Railways official said.
The Railways hopes to benefit from the wedding season in December as well as other months like June, September and October. The official added, “We cannot carry out the plan in suburban stations in Mumbai city, as they are always overcrowded. But few trains pass through stations like Navapur, and hence there will be more than enough space for such events.”
This isn’t the first time that Railway stations are being let out for unconventional purposes. Last year, the Bangalore Metro authorities had decided to let startups set up offices within local Metro stations. The Railways have been actively looking for ways to monetize their properties – a few years ago, trains had begun sporting commercial advertisements to generate revenue.
The Indian Railways is currently looking at mounting losses, thanks mainly to the subsidized fares that customers enjoy. But there have been hints that the subsidies might not last. “Railways got caught in a battle where populism prevailed over performance. The basic principle on which any commercial establishment is to be run is that consumers must pay for the services they receive,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said recently. And as this platform initiative shows, it’s heartening to see that the Railways is looking at other sources of income before passing the buck to the customers.