Shopaholics can indulge even while travelling by train now with the Northern Railway introducing on-board shopping options on important trains such as the Shatabdi Express.
With an aim to making train journeys exciting, the Northern Railway has started, as part of a pilot project, the facility on four Shatabdi trains.
"A pilot project on four Shatabdi Express trains — Kalka, Amritsar Swarn, Lucknow Swarn and Bhopal —started on November 5. We are into the last week of this experiment, Neeraj Sharma, chief public relations officer, Northern Railway, told Hindustan Times.
"But passengers need not lose heart. The response has been overwhelming. We will soon launch the facility on these trains on a long-term basis. Tenders will be floated to select firms. The service could be extended to other trains as well," he said.
Similar facilities are available on flights. “Airlines have been known for providing such services. Now we have also ventured into this territory,” said Sameer Sinha, senior divisional commercial manager, Northern Railway (Delhi).
The project can be seen in the context of railways’ aggressive approach to up its passenger share and compete with low-cost airlines by providing better passenger facilities.
The move is expected to benefit tourists. Bhopal Shatabdi, for example, takes a large number of foreign tourists to places such as Mathura, Agra, Gwalior, Jhansi and Bhopal.
Two staff members of a firm, chosen for the project, have been permitted in coaches for selling pre-approved, reputed and branded items. Two trolleys in each Shatabdi cover the entire train.
A wide range of products are provided for sale, including skincare products, exquisite jewellery, a wide range of delicious chocolates, souvenirs, portable document and image scanners, health key digital pedometers, sunglasses, perfumes, cordless MP3/4 players, handbags, watches, portable speakers, computer travel kits, besides gift items for kids such as Ben 10 toy cars and more.
Passengers have the option to make payment through cash or credit card using handheld card swipe machines. The railways will earn revenue in the form of a license fee levied on sales. The firm had deposited R2 lakh as security and will also pay 12 per cent of the sale proceeds to the railways.
The railways have also planned to introduce on-board entertainment systems on Shatabdi trains. Passengers will be able to view movies and television serials while travelling through satellite.