The Indian Railways (IR) plans to introduce dedicated train services for domestic and international tourists, catering to customers at all income levels.
The proposal is part of the draft tourism policy which IR is bringing out for the first time in a bid to increase private partnership in running tourist trains.
“A concept of tourist train with differential tariff will be worked out. The train will comprise different classes of accommodation like Sleeper 3A, 2A and 1A coaches, as per demand,” said IR.
“The IR will operate the train on different circuits with normal tariff or with a mark up.” it said. Additionally, the Railways plans to rope in several service providers, including Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), to manage other services such as hotel accommodation and sightseeing for domestic and international tourists.
The Railways also proposes to reserve special coaches for tourists on trains running through tourist spots across the country. It will auction such dedicated tourist coaches to tour operators “at a premium based on which the tour operator may carry the passengers/tourists to be booked by it,” according to IR’s draft Tourism Policy 2017. It has invited comments on its draft policy, uploaded on its website till April 24.
The IR will look to increase the frequency of hill tourist trains during peak season and has proposed reviving steam trains to be operated in hill stations. “An effort will be made to involve private participation in operating more (hill tourist) trains and also to improve the financial conditions in hill railways in general through Public Private Partnership,” the draft policy said.
It plans to unveil ‘Bharat Darshan Trains’ catering “for the masses” with sleeper class coaches. “The fare for this train will be fixed broadly on the basis of normal fare of mail or express trains with telescopic benefit for the entire trip. Such tourist trains will be at affordable rates so that ordinary citizens can use it,” the draft policy noted.
For promoting religious tourism, the IR proposed introducing Astha Circuit Trains and State Tirth Trains. While the former will be operated by the IR at its own expense, the latter will be run on request from state governments at their cost. “IRCTC will offer value-added service to make it an all inclusive tour package, the way the State government desires. The entire cost will be borne by the State Governments concerned,” it said.
Advance booking of seats for foreign tourists will begin a year in advance so that they can plan their journey.