To tap the huge potential of tourism, the Railways on Tuesday announced the ‘Bharat Gaurav’ scheme, under which theme-based tourist circuit trains, on the lines of the Ramayana Express, can be run either by private or State-owned operators.
“Till now, the Railways had passenger segments and goods segments. Now, we will have a third segment for tourism — ‘Bharat Gaurav’ train. We have earmarked about 3,033 coaches or about 150 trains. We are inviting applications for them from today [Tuesday],” Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said.
The Minister said these will not be regular trains that will run as per a timetable but will be more on the lines of the Ramayana Express being run by the IRCTC.
Service providers, who can be an individual, company, society, trust, joint venture or consortium will be free to decide themes/circuits like Guru Kripa trains for covering important places of Sikh culture or the Ramayana Express for places connected with Lord Ram.
They will offer an all inclusive package to tourists including rail travel, hotel accommodation and sightseeing arrangement, visit to historical/heritage sites, tour guides etc and have full flexibility to decide the package cost.
The service providers will also be able to design/furnish the interior of the coaches based on the theme and put branding or advertising inside and outside of the train.
Mr. Vaishnaw said the scheme has been developed after extensive stakeholder discussions and a lot of State Governments, including Odisha, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, have shown interest.
He said railways will charge a small amount but did not share specific details.