Rail ministry mulls tourist trains on revenue sharing model with state tourism boards

After having tasted considerable success with the launch of semi-luxury tourist trains, ministry is contemplating a joint venture to operate tourist trains on revenue sharing model. Also, it aims to de-congest platforms by bringing in multipurpose stalls and review policies related to land usage and station development to shore up finances for injecting fresh infrastructure.

mayur-mahalThe Indian railways has been in news for good reasons, especially in the past two years. In a constant attempt to ramp up reeling infrastructure to better passenger experience, it has undertaken a host of measures, ranging from running tourist trains in dedicated circuits to employing technology for real-time redressal of grievances. In a welcome development that could further boost travel and tourism, the ministry is now keen on leveraging from a symbiotic partnership with state governments. Top sources in the ministry shared with TF that ministry was in consultation with various state tourism boards and governments and examining the feasibility of operating tourist trains on revenue sharing model. 

Having tasted success with the launch of various tourist trains, the ministry of railways is keen to rope in states to launch more such ventures. Railways has also introduced a train covering ‘Tiger circuit’ which cover National Park in Bandhavgarh and Tiger reserve in Kanha and Jabalpur. Covering important religious and tourist destinations, a theme train named Bharat Darshan has also been flagged off. It is worth mentioning that ministry had recently launched semi-luxury trains covering top pilgrim destinations in north and east India – which had received considerable response. All these tourist trains are being offered with attractive packages that include accommodation, local transfers and meals.

Palace on wheelsImpressed by the success of these ventures, ministry of external affairs has requested ministry of railways to run a luxury train, covering destinations of interest to Buddhist pilgrims. It is being pushed with an eye on high-spending Buddhist tourists coming from South and southeast Asian countries.

Railways has also planned to rake up revenue by constructing theme-based restaurants from old ‘Palace on Wheels’ coaches at historically important properties under its possession. 

Also, taking cue from growing demand for an expanded bouquet of offerings in the menu, ministry has decided to leave catering related matters to IRCTC. IRCTC is in process of chalking out more vendors – which include online service providers offering food-delivery on seat, and serving ready-to-eat meals from branded vendors like Haldirams.

Further strengthening its outreach for quick response, it has launched ‘clean my train’ app which aims at assisting customers connect to railways for any hygiene related issue in the train compartment. Structured response to consumer complaints, time-bound outreach on Twitter and Facebook aside, “App based ticket booking and induction of services like e-bedroll are furthering lending weight to our idea of providing customers with convenience at very competitive prices,” the senior official said.

As the ministry plugs in infrastructure related plugholes, it is also mulling structural overhaul of policies related to land usage and station development in order to facilitate better financial management. Railways needs billions of dollars’ worth of investments to cope up with its ambitious expansion plans.

Aligning itself with national program on cleanliness, ‘Swaccha Bharat Abhiyaan’, railways was ensuring that special emphasis was being laid on cleanliness in and around the station premises, the senior ministry official shared. The ministry has allocated a sum of `500 crore for the purpose. An extension of this effort was visible with the launch of India’s first truly ‘Green Corridor’ in Tamil Nadu. This 114 kilometre stretch between Rameshwaram and Manamadurai would have zero-discharge of human waste. The ministry plans to emulate it on the Jammu-Katra route before the end of March, next year.

The ministry has recently passed an order allowing multipurpose stalls. It is expected that famed UK based chain of shop – WH SMITH – could also make a debut on Indian platforms by the end of the year. Tourists can expect books, medicines and other items under one roof. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *