No, Indian Railways Hasn’t Been Sold to Adani; It’s Just an Ad!
The Indian Railways had allowed brands to cover train engines in vinyl ads in 2019.
A viral video showing an advertisement of Adani Wilmar’s product, Fortune Atta, on a train has gone viral with a false claim that the Indian Railways has now been taken over by business conglomerate Adani Group.
This comes amid allegations by the protesting farmers that the new farm laws, which the government maintains give farmers the freedom to sell their crops to anyone, were made to favour Adani and Ambani.
We found that the Fortune Atta ad on the train engine, in the viral video, is part of the Indian Railways’ bid to generate Non-Fare Revenue (NFR) and does not indicate the ownership of the train. Several other brands like TATA Steel, Haldiram’s and Amul have placed similar vinyl advertisements on the locomotives.
The video was also shared by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra without providing the full context. She shared the video with the caption:
“जिस भारतीय रेलवे को देश के करोड़ों लोगों ने अपनी मेहनत से बनाया भाजपा सरकार ने उस पर अपने अरबपति मित्र अडानी का ठप्पा लगवा दिया। कल को धीरे - धीरे रेलवे का एक बड़ा हिस्सा मोदी जी के अरबपति मित्रों को चला जाएगा। देश के किसान खेती - किसानी को भी आज मोदी जी के अरबपति मित्रों के हाथ में जाने से रोकने की लड़ाई लड़ रहे हैं।”
(Translation: “The Indian Railways, which was built by crores of people of the country with their own hard work, the BJP government put a stamp of their billionaire friend Adani on it. Tomorrow, gradually a large part of the railways will go to Modi ji's billionaire friends. Farmers of the country are also fighting to stop farming from going into the hands of Modi ji's billionaire friends.”)
The video was shared by several users with the claim that ‘now Indian Railways will be known as Adani Railways.’
Congress leader Srivatsa from Karnataka also shared the video without making any claim.
WHAT WE FOUND
We noticed that the markings in the viral video read, “WR,” “WAP-7,” “BRC” and “30502.”
A keyword search of the same revealed that these markings refer to train engines of the Indian Railways. The ‘WR’ refers to Western Railways, and ‘BRC/WAP-7/30502’ refers to the locomotive number, meaning, it stands in the Vadodara shed (BRC) and has ‘WAP-7’ class of the locomotive.
Another keyword search of ‘Adani ad train engine’ led us to an article on The Wire, dated 20 July 2019, stating that Indian Railways will now “seriously allow all rail engines to be used for corporate branding, a revenue opportunity that has been considered the past but has not taken off fully.”
Adani and Amul were among the first few entities to have taken up the offer.
The article also contains a similar image of Adani’s vinyl ad on the train engine, as an example of what the ad would look like.
Another article, in the Financial Express, dated 4 March 2020, states that “recently, on 27 February 2020, a total of five additional WAP 7 locomotives were allotted to Adani Wilmar on pro-rata basis.”
According to the article, the Vadodara division under the Western Railway zone generates a revenue of Rs 73.26 lakh per annum as Non-Fare Revenue by branding as many as 37 locomotives.
OTHER BRANDS HAVE ALSO ADVERTISED ON LOCOMOTIVES
In 2016, the Indian Railways had planned to wrap over 10,000 trains in vinyl ads in a bid to earn Rs 300 crore, according to an article on The New Indian Express.
The Indian Railways had then offered 23 trains, consisting of Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Double Decker, Mail and Express trains, in the Central and Western Zone for branding.
A Hindu BusinessLine article, dated 9 July 2015, states that “Amul’s ad was probably the first instance of an ad being painted on the engine and not on any other part of the train.”
Amul had covered the WAP5 locomotive of the Vadodara Electric Loco Shed. An image of Amul’s ad on the train engine can be seen below.
Another article in the Financial Express, dated 10 January 2020, states that the Nagpur division of Indian Railways had allocated the branding of five locomotives through an open tender to M/S Haldiram’s, a food manufacturing brand.
Tata Steel had also unveiled its branded ‘Steel Express’ in July 2019.
Other examples of locomotives wrapped in vinyl ads can be seen in this YouTube video, by ‘The Rail Zone,’ a channel dedicated to information around the Indian Railways.
WOULD INDIAN RAILWAYS BE PRIVATISED?
In July 2020, the Railways Minister Piyush Goyal had clarified in a tweet, sharing his statement to CNBC, that the Indian Railways will continue to own the railways and it will be a public property.
“The government will own it and continue to provide all the services of freight and passenger...yet will also engage the private sector to supplement and provide with higher quality of service at more affordable prices,” Goyal stated.
This came after opposition to the Railways inviting private participation for passenger train operations on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains. In a press release, the Railways had stated that “this would be the first initiative of private investment for running passenger trains over Indian Railways network.”
The Hindu BusinessLine had reported in July that the proposal has garnered the interest of Tata Group, Adani Group, Alstom, and Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line.
In November, 102 applicants including Infrastructure majors such as Larsen & Toubro (L&T), GMR and BHEL had qualified to bid in the first stage, according to LiveMint. They will have to go through another round of bidding and the train services are set to eventually start operations in April 2023.
(With inputs from SM Hoax Slayer)
(Update: The story has been updated to add the misleading claim made by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.)
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