IRCTC introduces holiday train to J-K

Mumbai: The Catering and Tourism wing of railways has announced a special holiday train from Pune to Jammu and Kashmir with an additional air conditioned coach for the first time.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) announced the introduction of a special 15-coach holiday train from June 20 which would allow tourists to go for the Amarnath pilgrimage and visit Jammu and Kashmir.

“For the first time on this train we will have an air conditioned coach,” Bela Meena, additional general manager IRCTC said, adding, if we get a good response for the train we may consider providing at least one more train before August.

The additional general manager informed that the railways will arrange for hotels/tents for the passengers of the train unlike for those travelling via ‘Bharat Darshan’ as they have to live in shared accommodations or dharamshalas.

Apart from better accommodation, commuters would also be provided with luxury buses to take them from one place to another, tour escorts and security on the train.The train will pick passengers from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh before heading for Jammu and Kashmir and will charge about Rs 14,700 per couple for air-conditioned travel, she said.

Speaking about the already running special tourist trains ‘Bharat Darshan’, IRCTC officials said, they had received good response for the trains and all had been operating at almost full capacity.

“The trips that are planned for June 3 and 18 are already full,” Meena said.

“The potential for tourism on the railways in the country is immense but it has not taken off yet,” Rakesh Tandon, MD IRCTC said.

In the northern states of the country there was a large market of school trips into which the IRCTC could look to tap into and they would be able to provide more benefits than regular travel agents, he said.

“Pilgrim routes are very popular for special trains and we can consider increasing the number in the future,” he said.

Railway authorities were also working on ensuring that holiday special and tourist trains are run with punctuality, Tandon said.