From doorstep to train berth, Rlys works out a travel deal

The Railways is taking its services to the next level. In the works is an “end-to-end” travel solution for passengers, involving doorstep pick-up, porter facility, waiting provision in the executive lounge and assisted boarding, all for a fee and all rolled into one package deal.

The modalities of the project, to be rolled out in Delhi first, are being worked out. Conceived by the railway ministry, it will be executed by Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

“We are working on the logistics, and hope to start the service in six months,” Rakesh Tandon, IRCTC managing director, said.

The package deal is meant to minimise the hassles of a railway journey, from reaching the station and managing the luggage to haggling with porters and boarding the train. The amount charged will factor in the cab charges as well as the porter fees. Customer executives will escort passengers to their trains.

The package deal can be soon availed from the same website from where railway tickets are booked. Those travelling alone, especially senior citizens, are expected to benefit the most, apart from business travellers who are in the city for a day.

The idea is linked to railway executive lounges, the first of which was opened at the New Delhi railway station last month. Currently, for Rs 300, a passenger can use the lounge for three hours, and meals are included. Fifty more such lounges are planned.

What may be an impediment is the scale of the service — starting, for example, with the number of taxis that may be required to be a call away. The option of using chartered buses from certain points is being considered.

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation offers to open budget hotels at Gaya, Rajgir

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to set up budget hotels at different locations across the country on non-railway land. Land for these hotels will be provided by respective state governments. The IRCTC is also keen on building budget hotels in Bihar if the state government offers land for this proposal.

According to IRCTC managing director Nalin Singhale, in the first phase the IRCTC will construct budget hotels at Katra, Palanpur, Khajuraho and Chandigarh in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Chandigarh union territory respectively. The IRCTC has received positive response from these states and union territory and civil work is being started at Katra site in Himachal Pradesh, he said.

A senior IRCTC official supervising the budget hotel project said the IRCTC would construct, manage and operate budget hotels on its own. The IRCTC has asked for about one to two acre land from these state governments on lease. While about 1.5 acre land was finalized recently in Bhubaneswar (Odisha), talks are going on for other sites in the country, he said, adding IRCTC also plans to build budget hotel at Puri sea resort in Odisha.

According to an IRCTC official, Bihar has a huge potential for building budget hotels. Influx of tourists from foreign countries has been on the rise these days. “IRCTC will accept any offer for building budget hotels, particularly at Bodh Gaya and Rajgir, from the state government,” he said.

Sources said the IRCTC had earlier proposed to build about 100 budget hotels having one hundred rooms across the country, including Bihar, at an estimated cost of Rs 20,000 crore on surplus railway land. However, the cash-strapped railways shelved this plan in 2011.

Stung by the railway ministry’s refusal to build budget hotels across the country, the IRCTC had no option but to look for opportunities to translate its budget hotel dream into a reality on non-railway land in different states, said an IRCTC official.