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Metro rail media – Miles to go

By M4G Bureau - June 09, 2023

Metro rail networks make a neat cut for advertising

Indian Railways, the fourth largest railway system in the world, has a total route length of over 60,000km and carried over 8 billion people a year until 2020. The Metro rail networks in contrast have 830km of operational routes and carries as many as over 2.5 billion people a year. In addition, the Metro rail networks are on an expansion spree. Some 475km of Metro rail lines are under construction, and over 1,000km of new Metro rail routes have been proposed for approval of the Government.

Photo credit: Photo by Rohit Gangwar, Pexels

Figure 1 provides a detailed account of the operational route length under each Metro network, as also the routes under construction.

Fig 1: Operational Metro rail routes

  Metro network

  Operational route (in km)

  Under construction (in km)

  Delhi Metro

  349.00

  66.98

  Bangalore Metro

  68.60

  102.86

  Hyderabad Metro

  67.00

  0

  Chennai Metro

  54.10

  102.93

  Kolkata Metro

  47.85

  47.72

  Mumbai Metro

  46.50

  133.90

  Nagpur Metro

  38.22

  0

  Ahmedabad Metro

  37.90

  29.65

  Noida Metro

  29.70

  0

  Kochi Metro

  26.80

  1.10

  Lucknow Metro

  22.90

  0

  Gurgaon Rapid Metro

  12.10

  0

  Jaipur Metro

  11.98

  0

  Pune Metro

  10.35

  58.23

  Kanpur Metro

  8.73

  22.58

Source: www.metrorailguy.com

While Delhi Metro stands tall in terms of operational route length, it is still expanding its network and is already figuring among the world’s top 10 largest Metro rail systems. With 8 lines and an airport line, Delhi Metro criss-crosses the capital city, and that has been a compelling reason for advertising brands to use this network for running their campaigns. 

Bangalore’s Namma Metro is one of the fastest growing networks, already the second largest in the country, and has another 100km of routes under construction. Much of this network run overland and lends itself to advertising displays, apart from the station and in-train advertising opportunities, but owing to the long-standing outdoor media ban in the city, Namma Metro has had to forgo the much needed non-fare revenues from advertising. With Bangalore at the threshold of bringing back large format advertising, there is a likelihood of Namma Metro also zeroing down on leveraging the advertising revenue opportunity.

Apart from the 15 operational Metro rail networks, 7 more Metro rail networks are currently under construction, as given in Figure 2.

Fig 2: New Metro rail routes under construction

  Metro network

  Under construction (in km)

  Surat

  41.93

  Patna

  22.10

  Meerut

  20.00

  Indore Metro

  16.23

  Agra Metro

  11.90

  Navi Mumbai 

  11.10

  Bhopal Metro

  6.22

Source: www.metrorailguy.com

As the new route constructions are complete, the annual ridership will likely double from the 2.5 billion plus that has been recorded across all operational Metro rail networks, as seen in Figure 3.

Fig 3: Annual ridership across all operational Metro networks

  Metro network

  Annual ridership (in mn)

  Delhi Metro

  1,790 (as at 2021)

  Bangalore Metro

  174.22 (as at 2019-20)

  Hyderabad Metro

  178 (as at 20220

  Chennai Metro

  73 (estimated)

  Kolkata Metro

  256 (as at 2022)

  Mumbai Metro

  126 (estimated)

  Nagpur Metro

  40 (as at 2022)

  Ahmedabad Metro

  0.4 (as at 2022)

  Noida Metro

  5 (as at 2022)

  Kochi Metro

  17 (as at 2022)

  Lucknow Metro

  22 (as at 2017)

  Gurgaon Rapid Metro

  18 (as at 2022)

  Jaipur Metro

  22 (as at 2021)

  Pune Metro

  Data not available

  Kanpur Metro

  Data not available

  Total

  2.7 billion +

Source: Wikipedia

The opportunity to make the Metro rail systems highly attractive to advertisers will also depend much on how the infrastructure itself is made advertising friendly. 

In an interview with Outdoor Asia that was published in March this year, Col. Shubodoy Mukherjee had stated that “the possibilities in transit --  and particularly in the Metro which are the newer lifelines of the growing metropolises of India -- are endless. For instance, we still haven't got to the idea of making the Metro station a destination. When we say destination, people go to Times Square to see the bright ideas that ooze out of the buildings there. A similar experience can be created in all the transit stations.”

Looking ahead, as the media at Metro rail networks become more digital, and as even connected TVs come into this zone, Metro rail media like it is many other major cities, will lend itself to programmatic buying. 

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