After starting several luxury tourist trains like Palace on Wheels in various states, the Indian Railways is now all set to launch more affordable services for Indian and foreign tourists across different income groups.
Prominent among these is a fully airconditioned service that will cover the Buddhist circuit and eight economy-class 'Bharat Darshan' trains originating from different cities.
The Buddhist circuit train is being started with the aim of catering to the large number of Buddhist pilgrims and tourists who arrive from various countries, particularly the South East Asian nations.
As these tourists visit all prominent sites associated with the life of Lord Buddha, this train is intended to cover shrines like Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Rajgir, Sanchi, Ajanta and Ellora during its week-long itinerary originating in Delhi.
To be launched in January next year, this train will have compartments in the first, second and three tier airconditioned categories, according to PK Goel, the Managing Director of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). The package cost will include train travel, hotel stay, meals and local sightseeing.
The 'Bharat Darshan' tourist train with ordinary sleeper class coaches is aimed at the middle class tourists from different regions of the country. The idea of starting such a service is to enable people from small towns and rural areas to visit important religious and cultural centres and historical places at an affordable cost, Goel explained.
At Rs 500 per day for a two-week itinerary, two such 'Bharat Darshan' services have already been started from Chennai and Madurai in the South from where tourists are taken on a round trip covering prominent north Indian destinations like Agra, Mathura, Delhi, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Varanasi,Gaya and Allahabad. This package includes rail travel, local stay, meals and sightseeing too.
Six more such trains are planned to be started next year with originating points at Mumbai and Ahmedabad. These will cover circuits in north and south India.
In the luxury train segment, intended mainly for foreign tourists with a paying capacity of $ 400 a day, new Palace on Wheels type services are planned to be introduced next year in Karnataka and Punjab in collaboration with the state governments, the IRCTC chief said. A second Palace on Wheels is also to be started soon in Rajasthan with private sector collaboration in view of the huge popularity of the service.
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