Pranab to begin run with decision on saloon car | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Pranab to begin run with decision on saloon car

delhi Updated: Jul 30, 2012 01:21 IST
Srinand Jha

As one of his first official tasks, President Pranab Mukherjee will need to take a call on a matter that's not entirely mundane - should a new presidential saloon car be constructed and made available for his use?

The old presidential saloon car - created in 1956 - was declared un-serviceable by the Railways in 2006, and its plans to construct a new carriage at an estimated cost of Rs. 3 crore did not move forward.

But now, with Raisina Hill acquiring a new occupant, the Railways is contemplating building a new presidential saloon car. A proposal in this regard will be moved before Rashtrapati Bhavan soon, sources said.

As neither of the former presidents - Pratibha Devisingh Patil and APJ Abdul Kalam - preferred to travel by rail, the issue remained on the backburner.

The Railways, however, had chugged very close to an embarrassing situation in 2008, when President Patil expressed her desire to travel by the presidential saloon car. Fortunately for Railways officials, Patil had subsequently dropped the idea.

None of the last two railways ministers, besides present minister Mukul Roy, chose to travel by the saloon car (or Reserved Accommodation - as these carriages are known in Rail jargon). Lalu Prasad, however, more than made up for these three - using the saloon car as many as 369 times during his tenure.

While most of Prasad's journeys were to Bihar, he also traveled in the customised carriage to other places, including Puri, Jammu, Ludhiana and Varanasi.

The Railways has 70 AC saloons and 222 non-AC carriages, capable of running on broad gauge lines, in its inventory. Besides this, there are 24 non-AC and 2 AC category metre gauge saloons.

Dedicated saloons are kept ready for the President and the railways minister, besides senior railways officials.