The first train, from Coimbatore to Shirdi, was launched with great fanfare; the second, from Delhi, takes off on June 21
Twenty coaches with yellow-blue exterior, decorated with garlands, left for a trip from Coimbatore to Shirdi on Tuesday June 14.
Drumbeats filled the air, as the first privately operated train, under Indian Railways’ Bharat Gaurav scheme, began its journey from Coimbatore North Railway Station in Tamil Nadu.
The journey and the stops
The first Bharat Gaurav train left Coimbatore North at 6 p.m. on Tuesday June 14 and is expected to reach Sainagar, Shirdi at 7:25 a.m. on Thursday June 16. Operated by private player South Star Rail, the train will stop at Tiruppur, Erode, Salem, Yelahanka, Dharmavaram, Mantralayam Road and Wadi en route.
There will also be a five-hour stop at Mantralayam Road Station, to facilitate darshan at Mantralayam Temple.
The train will make its return journey from Shirdi at 07:25 on Friday and reach Coimbatore at 12:00 on Saturday. There will be such trips from Coimbatore every Tuesday.
India’s Ministry of Railways on its Twitter handle said, “Promoting India’s rich cultural heritage! Southern Railway becomes the first area to get its first service provider registered under the ‘Bharat Gaurav’ scheme and today begins operations of the inaugural service from Coimbatore North to Sainagar Shirdi. »
The peculiarity of the train
The traveler can expect many features. For example, there is a radio jockey on the tracks and the coaches are equipped with high frequency loudspeakers to play devotional songs and swap stories. This will keep passengers entertained during the long journey.
Private housekeeping service providers will clean the coaches at regular intervals to provide a pleasant experience for guests. Only vegetarian food is available.
There is a doctor on board to handle medical emergencies. Electricians, air conditioning mechanics, fire and security officers will also be on board.
For better security, private security will be deployed in addition to the railway police. The premises will be smoke and toxin free to ensure that no passenger faces any inconvenience.
What is Bharat Gaurav’s policy?
The Bharat Gaurav Policy, launched by the Ministry of Railways in November 2021, allows private players — operators and service providers — to lease trains from Indian Railways and operate them on themed routes.
The duration of the contract can range from two years to the lifetime of the coach and allows the private operator to offer special tourist packages.
Operators have the freedom to decide on the route, stops, services provided and fare. They also take care of food, hotel stays, local transport and sightseeing during the trip.
Why themed trains?
The trains were launched by the Center to promote tourism sectors by giving carte blanche to private players. The operators will run these trains on themed circuits within the framework of a policy granting them the “Right of use”.
According to the official website of Bharat Gaurav Trains, the main purpose of these trains is to show Indians, as well as people around the world, the nation’s rich cultural heritage and beautiful historical places.
It will also help liberalize the rail service sector, which is mainly controlled by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), and help boost the domestic tourism sector.
What operators can and cannot do
Private operators decide what kind of interior they want. They decide on the catering and entertainment activities of the trip.
The operators also carry out the marking on the outside and inside the train. They can link up with agencies and entities for business development. Operators can additionally name the route, train and sell advertising space.
What operators are not allowed to do is interfere with critical parts of the coach, as this may affect the safety of the train. They cannot serve alcohol on board.
While the railways will provide the personnel to operate the trains, guards as well as on-board maintenance personnel, operators must deploy maintenance and catering personnel.
What type of coaches will the train have?
The train will have conventional Class I, II, III AC cars as well as non-AC sleeping cars, AC chair cars and pantry cars. Depending on the target clientele, the operator can create a train with an appropriate mix of cars.
What are the package prices?
The journey from Coimbatore to Shirdi is approximately 1,458 km long. The fare for Sleepers class is ₹1,280 and the fares for 3-AC, 2-AC and 1-AC are ₹2,360, ₹4,820 and ₹8,190 respectively. The bill stands at ₹2,500, ₹5,000, ₹7,000 and ₹10,000 respectively, according to a report on communemag.com.
Delhi’s first Bharat Gaurav train, in line with the Centre’s Dekhi Apna Desh initiative, will be launched by IRCTC on June 21. The trip will cover all the important places associated with Lord Rama.
The all-inclusive tour for the same will start from ₹62,370 per person. This includes an 18-day 3-AC train journey, stays in AC hotels, sightseeing bus tours, travel guides, vegetable meals, travel insurance, and more.
Railways and tourism sector
According to a report on worldwidejournals.com, titled “Role of Indian Railways in the Tourism Industry,” “One of the best ways to experience India is by rail. Railways cover most parts of India. It makes the tourist feel the culture of India and not only it gives a clear picture of the state. Indian Railways are taking effective measures to attract tourists. The railways make the tourism industry one of the revenue generating industries for the Indian government.