1 Oct :The Ministry of Tourism, with a view to develop niche tourism and to invite potential tourists, domestic as well as, foreign, has been providing financial support to the new concept i.e., luxury trains which take the tourists through different tourist destinations of the states.
Apart from promoting the ‘Palace on Wheels’ and ‘Heritage on Wheels’ in Rajasthan, Deccan Odyssey in Maharashtra and Golden Chariot in Karnataka, Ministry of Tourism has now provided grant to luxury train of Punjab. The Union Ministry of Tourism, Indian Railways and Government of Punjab have agreed to launch and promote as a part of the Incredible India campaign, a luxury tourist train to cover popular destinations in Northern India. A Memorandum of Understanding for the proposed train was signed here today between Ministry of Railways and Government of Punjab in the presence of Minister of Tourism and Culture, Smt. Ambika Soni, Minister of Railways, Shri Lalu Prasad and Chief Minister of Punjab, Shri Prakash Singh Badal.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of Tourism & Culture Smt. Ambika soni said the Indian Railways have a critical role in the promotion of tourism in India. If offers safe, affordable and convenient mode of travel for hundreds of millions of tourists. Last year the estimated numbers of domestic travelers was nearly 450 million. She said safely assume that a large number of these domestic tourists used the Indian Railways to travel within the country. Given the importance of Indian Railways in promotion tourism, we, in the Ministry of Tourism, expect a substantial support from the Indian Railways to increase the number of tourists in the future. The process of establishing world class stations, opening of new routes, provision of additional trains to popular destinations and the creation of budget accommodations at Railway stations are steps in the right direction, which will promote tourism, the Minister added.
Smt. Soni said, the Indian Railways have developed niche products which have created opportunities to travel in India at the desired level of luxury or economy. She said, she appreciate the range of tourism products provided by the Indian Railways beginning from the Bharat Darshan trains, which enable the average income person to travel in comfort to the internationally renowned luxurious Palace on Wheels. Specialized services like Mahaparinirvana Train which connects destinations linked to Lord Buddha, have become major tools of internationally marketing the Buddhist Circuit. Smt. Soni said, the Ministry of Tourism has provided support, through its overseas offices across the world, to promote the Train to the media and travel trade in various countries. We have promoted the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation in ITB Berlin and other international trade fairs. The Ministry of Tourism has also provided air-passages to the international tour operators and media representatives for marketing the Mahaparinirvana Train.
The proposed tourist train will have all the elements of luxury and comfort on board for the tourists with well trained staff to offer hospitality to the tourists. With an assistance of Rs. 7.25 crore from the Ministry of Tourism, the luxury train will cover popular destinations like Amritsar, Dharamshala, Anandpur Sahib, Patiala, Kurukshetra, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi in the itinerary of seven days. The project is expected to be ready for operation within two years. A Management Committee comprising members from the Union Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Railways and Government of Punjab will be constituted to oversee the implementation of the project. The tourism promotion material of Ministry of Tourism will be made available in the train free of cost and posters of Incredible India will be displayed in all coaches of the train. In addition, familiarization tours will be allowed for tour operators and media persons, by the promoters of the project based on the recommendations from the Union Ministry of Tourism. Indian Railways will share the capital cost of the rake and undertake its operation and maintenance. Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board will undertake the overall management of the project including provision of on board and off board facilities and its marketing in India and abroad.
The rake comprises saloons, restaurant cars, multiple cuisines, lounge bars, observation cars with a viewing gallery, gym, spa, beauty saloon, library, games room and a computer center.