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Indian Railways to go ‘corporate’, asks zones to prepare marketing plans to boost business

Railway Board tells zonal railway general managers it will regularly review Business Development Units, which are tasked with doubling freight loading by 2024.

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New Delhi: The Indian Railways is set to add a corporate flavour to its functioning, saying it will come up with business acquisition plans — on the lines of marketing plans — to generate more business.

The Railway Board, in a letter dated 17 July addressed to the general managers of zonal railways, said it will regularly review the progress made by Business Development Units (BDUs) — which have been set up at the board, zonal and divisional levels to double freight loading by 2024.

Earlier this month, ThePrint had reported that to achieve the freight doubling target by 2024 and attract customers who opt for road haulage, the Ministry of Railways had decided to set up BDUs that would stay in touch with industries and advertise the willingness of the railways “to attract new streams of traffic”.

“Action taken by the BDUs and the progress made i.e. new traffic streams identified/developed and action taken to realise the potential of such traffic streams, needs to be prepared by zones and shared with nodal officer in Railway Board on a regular basis,” the letter sent Friday said.

“A dashboard is also being developed to track the action taken on a continuous basis,” it added.

Also read: Railways begins scheduled freight trains on pilot basis to match speed of passenger trains

What business acquisition plans will entail

In its “illustrative guidelines” on the scope of work of these BDUs, the Railway Board further said the BDUs shall prepare a business acquisition plan for each division and zone.

“The business acquisition plan shall be akin to a marketing plan formulated by corporates to guide the sales and marketing team of the group,” the letter said.

“Each division will have its own marketing plan and the zonal plan should be a symbiotic combination of these divisional plans to target more than the sum total of individual parts.”

The key points the marketing plans will be required to cover are the existing freight basket of the division (past performance review, five year historical trend for market for each commodity, etc.), existing freight infrastructure, and existing freight ecosystem (mapping the total freight being generated in the geographical area, assessment of the source of freight generation).

Further, the plan must include a SWOT analysis for the market for each commodity — that is, a comparison of cost, transit time, first mile-last mile coverage, ease of doing business provided by the Railways and its main competitor (example roadways).

Finally, the plan would also include a marketing objective, marketing strategies, action plan (what will be done, who will do it, when will it be done and how much it will cost), projected volumes and revenues after implementation of plan, resource requirement and a detailed audit plan.

The marketing strategies, the Railway Board said, should entail “bifurcating commodities into bulk and non-bulk and having different strategies for both including the transportation product that would be used to target them viz. general purpose wagons, special wagons, containers, parcel vans etc”.

“The strategies should be sum of smaller commodity-wise plans/strategies for affecting modal shift as well as increasing volumes,” it added.

The marketing plans to boost business are the latest among the slew of steps taken by the Railways to boost freight traffic, at a time when earnings from passenger trains have nosedived. Discounts to customers who book ‘round-trips’ for freight haulage, concession in freight charges for long lead traffic are some of the other measures taken by the Railways recently.

Also read: No new posts, remove re-engaged staff — austerity measures by Railways to soften Covid blow


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