Chartered train to Kashmir gets good response

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC)’s first chartered train from Kerala to Kashmir and Shimla has received overwhelming response, with over 500 people booking packages for the 15-day Onam rail tour package. The bookings started on July 20 and will remain open till September 10.

“It’s the first time IRCTC is charting a tour train from the state. The tour to Kashmir is organized because there is a good demand for the packages to there and it is one of the favourite destinations among professionals and government employees who go on LTC tours,” said IRCTC manager Ratheesh Chandran. “After reaching Delhi, tourists will be divided into two groups and one group will head for Kashmir and the other will travel to Shimla-Manali,” he added.

The 18-coach train, which has capacity to accommodate 800 tourists and 100 staff and security personnel, is scheduled for departure on September 13. The package, which includes travel, accommodation and food, is available in four categories. While the budget and standard packages, which include sleeper class journey, costs Rs24,410 and Rs29,460 per person respectively, the comfort and deluxe packages, including AC journey, costs Rs38,360 and Rs40,780 respectively.

Chandran said that contrary to their expectations, there was a good demand for deluxe and comfort packages, which provide air conditioned coaches. IRCTC will also provide insurance coverage to the travellers.

Published in: on August 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm  Comments (1)  
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Group travel? Charter a train to Shimla

Planning a break this summer with your clients or staff for company? A picturesque journey in a chartered train on the century-old Kalka-Shimla rail line could be just the answer, especially for corporate honchos.

Northern Railway is running a chartered train service on the Kalka-Shimla section. Under the plan, any company or individual can hire a train comprising six coaches with a capacity to accommodate up to 180 people.

“A one-way trip between Kalka and Shimla for a chartered train would cost from Rs.20,000 to Rs.60,000, depending on the class you are travelling in. However, for a film or serial shooting, you have to shell out more – Rs.1.8 lakh,\” commercial inspector (railways) Amar Singh Thakur told IANS.

According to him, the added attraction while travelling on the chartered train is that the tourists can decide the number of stoppages on the 96-km-long rail track, which has been chosen by Unesco as a world heritage site.

“During the five-hour journey, tourists can select the stoppages. But the journey has to be completed within the stipulated time,\” Thakur said.

Shimla railway station superintendent G.S. Rajput while speaking to IANS said: \”The response of the tourists is good. In a year, three to four parties generally hire the chartered train.\”

He said foreign tourists, particularly from Britain, are keen to enjoy a joyride on this track because of a coal-fired steam engine. But right now a diesel- powered engine is in use.

The steam engine-operated train runs between Shimla and Kathlighat. The fare is Rs.59,000 for a round-trip and the one-way journey between the two stations is 22 km.

\”We have a 1903-made heritage steam engine but for over a year it has not been in operation. It has been sent to Amritsar (in Punjab) for repair. We are getting a good number of enquiries regarding its re-introduction,\” Rajput added.

David Brown, a British tourist who travelled on the Kalka-Shimla rail track, said: \”I was keen to listen to the chuff-chuff-choo-choo rhythm but sadly the engine is not in use these days.\”

The chartered trains are being handled by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a wing of Indian Railways.

The journey on the narrow-gauge rail line is an exhilarating experience.

The Kalka-Shimla rail track was built by the British in 1903 to ferry Europeans to and fro this hill town, the erstwhile summer capital of British India.

The ascent begins from 640 metres (2,100 ft) above sea level at Kalka in Haryana and crosses Dharampur, Barog, Solan and Kandaghat before it reaches Shimla at 7,000 ft.

There are 102 tunnels on the rail line. Initially, there were 103, but tunnel number 46 does not exist any more.

A train takes about three minutes to cross the longest tunnel at Barog (5,000 ft). The other big tunnels en route are at Koti (2,276 ft), Taradevi (1,615 ft) and tunnel number 103 (1,135 ft), which is near Shimla.

Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Now charter a train to your destination

Mumbai: Next on the itinerary of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism
Corporation (IRCTC) is ‘chartered tour package’ to destinations of your choice.

The first such train will begin from February 19 from Vasai Road in Mumbai to Goa via Ahmedabad.

Owing to the immense popularity for its recent initiative – the Bharat Darshan scheme – the IRCTC was flooded with requests from different communities and corporate clients asking them to design short and comfortable packages. With the summer vacations round the corner, IRCTC has already chalked out three such packages – Goa, Tirupathi and Vaishnodevi.

Bela Meena, additional general manager, IRCTC, said, “We came across lots of people while undertaking the Bharat Darshan project who were ready to pay more
for additional comforts. Besides they were not all keen to visit the places we had chalked out in the itinerary. This is the reason we designed the concept of a ‘chartered train’, which will be for specific destinations. We also plan to offer the entire coach if we get around 60 people from the same community wanting to travel to a particular location.”

Talking about the requests she said, “Interestingly we came across a large number of people from the Jain community wanting to travel to their pilgrimage sites in Gujarat and Ahmedabad. Some corporates, too, have approached us with similar requests.”

The chartered train will come at a price as it will be a specially designed
package with added facilities. “Unlike the Bharat Darshan package where we do not charge the ’empty haulage’ and the ‘detention’ charges, the passengers travelling in the chartered train will have to bear these charges. Empty haulage is the charge incurred while assembling the coaches from various places together and detention charges are those which are incurred when the train is detained at a particular destination while the passengers go site seeing.”

When asked whether IRCTC would be required to seek permission from the Railway Board before charting the new package she said that it has already received an approval. Currently, the corporation is flooded with various requests from people asking to plan packages for destinations in East India like Darjeeling during the summer vacations.

This is the second such venture of the railways after the successful Bharat Darshan scheme, which was announced by the Union Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav early this year. “We use a 7-coach non-AC sleeper class train plus a pantry car and two service locomotives to carry 504 passengers for Bharat Darshan. However, in the chartered train scheme we hope to carry 900 passengers on 15-coach train which comprises six 3-tier AC coaches and six sleeper class coaches besides pantry and service locomotives,” said Meena.