After invading Metro stations with a range of various media, corporate houses are now ready to take over entire stations, giving the country its first set of stations with corporate names. Located on the five km long Gurgaon Metro Rail line, the two metro stations in the limelight are Belvedere Towers and Moulsari Avenue, which have gone to the telecom companies Vodafone and Micromax, respectively.
Though the names are yet to be finalised, they are expected to be named Vodafone Belvedere Towers and Micromax Moulsari Avenue.
Pritam Kumar, senior vice-president, RMGL, says, "These companies can design the metro stations in their own creative ways, provided this does not create too much clutter or disturb the stations' aesthetics, so that the person coming in can get a feel of the brand. However, the front side of the station has not been given for designing. It will have the name of the station with the brand name engraved on it."
He emphasizes that the presence of the brands should not cause any inconvenience to people or affect their safety.
Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon, a special purpose vehicle of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), has entered into a five-year agreement with the two companies and decided to charge a monthly rent of Rs 3 lakh from them.
Both Micromax and Vodafone will be given 20-25 per cent of the station's space for branding, along with a 1000 sq. ft space for the retail activities. Regular advertising, newspaper and coffee kiosks will also be included in the arrangement.
RMGL has hired technicians and experts to design the roofing, lighting and other aspects of the Metro stations for a more aesthetic look.
Kumar says, "The corporate conceptualisation of the metro stations has not begun yet; it will only begin after we are ready to go operational. We will sit with the brands' creative team and our architects to discuss how it will be designed."
Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon began scouting for advertisers a year ago by organising road shows and conferences to promote its project.
Augustine says, "We have been in talks with the RMGL officials for a long time and finally we have it now."
RMGL is in talks with several other companies for branding other stations of its metro line. It is also on the lookout for advertisers for train wrapping and is in talks with several banks though nothing has been finalised yet.
Though 90 per cent of the revenue for RMGL will come through fares, only 10 per cent of it will come through such non-fare activities, of which advertising forms an important part.
Kumar says, "We are not as big as other Metro lines, so such branding activities will generate a good amount of income that will keep the project steering. We do not have any government grants so the money that comes from these activities is important to us."
As of today, the five km Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon line has six stations and is expected to be operational by March, 2013. RMGL also plans to commission another seven kms to it, making it a 12 km line connecting Golf Course to Sikanderpur Metro station of the Delhi Metro line. One lakh commuters are expected to use this rail service on a daily basis.
Kumar, however, emphasised that the branding exercise will not confuse people about the name of the stations as the renaming will be partial.
The Metro project was initially constructed by a DLF-IL&FS consortium in a public private partnership with the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) but after DLF refused to invest, IL&FS holds a 100 per cent stake.