Get ready for a different rail travel experience. A special rail coach with a living room, two bathrooms, two toilets and a private kitchen. The catch: You will be allowed to take your own chefs on the trip.
For, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will give the travellers a customised experience in the train with its new product named 'Tourist Car'.
"One coach will have a capacity of 30-40 berths. IRCTC will roll out 30 such private tourist cars in the next three months," sources said.
IRCTC Regional Director, V Sriram confirmed the development but refused to divulge details. "Currently, tourism constitutes little less than 20 per cent of railways' total revenue. We are taking series of initiatives to promote tourism including launch of our own tour packages. There are various projects in the pipeline," Sriram added.
At present, the turnover of IRCTC is about Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion) and is set to cross Rs 550 crore (Rs 5.50 billion) in this financial year. It is expected to clock a turnover of Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) in next five-years time with the help of new catering and tourism business initiatives.
"Option will be available for private parties to be arranged on the tourist car as well. The cost of booking tickets for the tourist car will be between Rs 500-Rs 1,000 per day based on the AC and Non-AC bookings. It would be a 10 day package," sources added.
The Tourist Car initiative is taken up to tap into the growing travellers segment which prefers to go on a weekend holiday or arrange group trips to selected destinations for small trips.
The facility will initially be launched on the Mumbai-Kerala and Mumbai-Karnataka line. Agra, New Delhi and Jammu will follow. "Kerala and Karnataka are favourite tourist destinations among tourists from Western India," said Kumar Shah, MD, Kulin Kumar Tours and Travels.
By customising one's travel experience, Railways will recreate a travel experience for the tourist which existed almost 50 years ago," said Kumar Shah, MD, Kulin Kumar Tours and Travels.
Shah has the license to book tickets for Railways' Bharat Darshan trains. The Railways have plan to extend tourist cars in the Bharat Darshan trains also which primarily arranges pilgramages for the tourists. Bharat Darshan trains have been one of the very successful trains Railways has been running for the past 18 months.
The cost of building such coaches will range anywhere between Rs 60 lakh (Rs 6 million) and Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million). Infact, IRCTC has forayed into the tourism market for the first time with its own designed tour packages too.