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Friday, September 7, 2012

Railway stations across city have started blaring ads through their PA systems to make more money; commuters say it is nothing but noise pollution

 The Railways' annoying public address (PA) system – announcements on which are seldom missed but almost never understood due to heavy distortion – just got more annoying. The cash-strapped Railways has started leasing slots on the PA system for advertisements, but the move is making commuters on Western and Central Railway complain of getting bouts of irritability. 

    The Railways believes that leasing out time slots is good business plan as they charge Rs 125 per second for the advertisements. A railway official said that they have ensured that the sound clips are short to ensure that the commuters are not disturbed. Commuters, on the other hand, say that 15 seconds of loud and heavily distorted music clips at an already noisy railways station is noise pollution. 
    "I was standing on a platform at CST when I suddenly heard this loud, sharp noise from the announcement system. It was an advertisement for a popular TV game show," said Madhu Kotian, President of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh. 
    "The sound coming out of the blown CST speakers was loud and unclear. Then the speakers let out another shrill noise marking the end of the advertisement," Kotian said. 
    Another commuter, Ramesh Dubey, said, "It just catches you unawares. The volume is turned to maximum, and there is no missing it. If they chose to continue this, I am hoping they would invest in a better quality PA system. If nothing else, at least we would be able to hear these advertisements properly. What we here now is plain noise." 

    Kotian added that railway stations are already very noisy with so many continuous announcements, that too in three languages. "It is nothing but a nuisance for commuters. Soon if this method catches on, railways will 
increase the frequency of playing such advertisements, and these faulty speakers. There are other methods of earning revenue, instead of contributing to noise at railway stations," Kotian said. 
    Meanwhile, railway officials defended the move saying it is proving to be a good mode of revenue generation. "We charge a rate of rupees 125 per second for such promotion. Last year, we earned Rs 4.5 lakh from airing the advertisement of a TV show for three days," said a senior Railway official adding that the volume is not kept too loud and the sound clips are kept short. 
    A railway source said that the railway is already estimated to have generated over a crore since first implementing this project late last year. 
    Officials said the project to improve the quality of the public address systems at railway stations has been stalled for a long time due to lack of funds. "These ads as well as normal announcements will start sounding better and clearer once we get a better quality public address system," said a senior WR official.

Sources say railways earned around Rs 1 crore since implementation of the project

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