The Indian Railways on Tuesday announced plans to launch a new segment of trains for tourism called 'Bharat Gaurav'. These will be theme-based trains to be run both by the private sector as well as the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said 190 Bharat Gaurav trains will be started. "These are not regular trains that will be run on timetables. They are exclusive tourist trains to showcase India’s culture and heritage," he told reporters.
The railways has invited applications from interested parties. The minister said states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Rajasthan have shown interest in the trains.
Pvt players to decide fare
Since they are tourist trains, tour operators will decide the fare but the railways will ensure that there is no abnormality in prices.
"We have to look at this from beyond the traditional view about railway operations such as passenger and freight. Packages of these tourist trains may include hotel accommodation, taxi fares to tourist destinations, train fares, meal charges, sightseeing arrangements and visits to historical/heritage sites,” Vaishnaw said.
Passengers will have the flexibility to decide the package cost based on the services offered. The choice of coaches will also be modified to suit the clientele (luxury or budget).
The concessionaire will be free to design/furnish the interiors of coaches. "The service provider can decide the theme, like in the case of Guru Kripa trains that cover places of Sikh culture, or Ramayana trains that run on routes connected to Lord Shri Ram, etc," a statement from the railways said.
Branding and advertisement are permitted both inside and outside of the trains, and the train composition will be of 14 to 20 coaches, including guard vans. The process of applying for these trains will be through a one-step transparent online registration process with a fee of Rs 1 lakh.
The railways has sought the participation of state governments, private players and public sector undertakings to operate the trains.
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