Special tour package for south India

LUCKNOW: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has proposed a special `South Bharat Darshan Yatra’ for 14 nights/15 days at Rs 7,695 per person. The departure of the train will be from Delhi, Safdarjung on January 10, 2011.

The train will pass through Moradabad, Bareilly, Hardoi, Lucknow (arrival at 19:15 hrs and departure at 19:30 hrs), Varanasi (arrival at 01:00 hrs and departure at 01:10 hrs), Gaya, Puri, Tirupati, Rameswaram, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Mysore, Bangalore and Manmad (Shirdi). The train will return to Delhi on January 24, 2011 at 20:50 hrs via Lucknow (arrival at 09:00 hrs).


Rlys to help book taxis, hotel rooms soon

Mumbai: If things work as planned, by the end of this year Railways will introduce a three-digit number, 138, which can be dialled from any mobile number to book taxi service and hotel accommodation anywhere in the country.

“People travelling to different places in the country are interested in knowing whether their respective train is scheduled on time, which platform the train will halt and the position of their coach on the platform. Many passengers who do not have an access to internet want to make quick booking of taxis outside the station and get good hotel accommodation,” said Rakesh Tandon, managing director of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

“We intend to introduce a service which will provide these and many more facilities for the passengers. This is likely to be introduced before the end of this year as it is being tried on experimental basis in New Delhi,” said Tandon.

Recently, the Railways introduced three-digit number 139 on which passengers can send an SMS to know the status of their ticket. “Passengers having wait-listed ticket or an RAC booking can send an SMS on 139 and can know whether their ticket has been confirmed,” said Tandon.

Not only this, the railways is also working towards the huge amount of garbage generated from the trains daily. “According to a recent survey, we have found that after any two meals – breakfast and lunch or evening snacks and dinner – every coach generates around 15kg garbage every day. We offer catering services on 800 trains in the country.

Even if we consider 14 coaches per train, the amount of garbage multiplies manifold. However, railways have only 600 nominated points across the country for dumping this garbage,” said Tandon, adding, “We plan to introduce a solid waste management programme which will use non-burning technology on the train itself.”


Take a 10-day tour of India for just Rs 5000

MUMBAI: Imagine travelling across the states for ten days, for just Rs 500 a day, all expenses included. With airfares and private travel packages
still coming at a premium, the Bharat Darshan special tourist train run by Indian Railways has become a huge hit with domestic tourists.

Better known as the common man’s ‘Palace On Wheels’, the Bharat Darshan trains offer all-inclusive trips to different parts of the country. The trip is managed from start to finish, including ground stay at tourist spots, by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), an autonomous body under the Indian Railways.

Ironically, the train had few takers although it was introduced way back in 2004 and was being managed by a private tourist firm. Now that the contract with the private firm is over, IRCTC has been running the Bharat Darshan special service from December 2008 with considerable success.

IRCTC officials on Wednesday said the Bharat Darshan tours are reporting 100% occupancy as compared to around half earlier.” Every advertisement or announcement gets around 1500 queries. We run around two tours a month now as compared to just one every two months earlier,’’ said Bella Meena, additional general manager of IRCTC, Mumbai.

Even though the tours are highly subsidised, IRCTC officials said that they make a 5% profit per trip. IRCTC owns three trains, one of which is with the IRCTC, Mumbai. Attempts are on to get another one. “If we get an airconditioned (ac) train, it will add more value to the offer,’’ she added.

Meena said Bharat Darshan offers an average Mumbaikar a chance to realise his travel dreams by hopping onto this train which traverses through some of the best known tourist spots in the country. For instance the train to North India covers the magnificent Taj, the historic Jallianwala Bagh, freezing Himachal heights and explores cultures of these places at a very economical rate,’’ said Meena.

IRCTC has also inducted fresh recruits from hotel management colleges to improve service quality. Meena said the tour package is roughly pegged at Rs 5780/-per person on an average across directions, which works out to a little above Rs 500/-per day.

The tour which is on a second-class sleeper includes all meals, local sightseeing of popular places at the tourist destination by semi-luxury tourist buses. It also includes travel and security arrangements. Surprisingly, the guards on the train are unarmed. “The RPF at each station coordinates for security,’’ said the officials.

The Bharat Darshan train is much smaller than regular one with just seven coaches, a pantry and a safety compartment with a carrying capacity of 540 persons.