In a bid to boost rail tourism, the Indian Railways is planning to lease coaching stock to interested parties to run them as theme-based cultural, religious, and other tourist circuit trains. According to sources, the plan is that the interested parties have to buy or lease a train with a minimum of 16 coaches.
According to the transporter, the salient features of the proposed model are:
- The train coaches will be leased as per the desired configuration of interested parties
- A minor redevelopment of coaches as well as trading of trains or third-party advertising inside the coaches are allowed
- The leasing will be done for a minimum period of five years and is extendable till the codal life of coaches
- The private parties interested in the project need to develop a business model - routes, itinerary, tariff, etc
- Indian Railways will levy the haulage charges, nominal stabling charges, and lease charges. No haulage will be permitted for maintenance runs
- For the interested parties, a simple registration process will be available based upon the eligibility criteria, according to the Railway Ministry
"India has the potential to attract the right share of travellers and to increase the tourism contribution to India's overall GDP. Besides other factors in the post-pandemic era, railway infrastructure for eg. Vistadome will be a differentiator for attracting quality tourism from overseas and within India," said Vishnu Sudarsan, Partner, J Sagar Associates, reported LiveMint.
Sudarshan said that better infrastructure will help in attracting investments. "Vistadome coaches have the potential to unlock the traffic potential on tourism routes and destinations which in the pre-COVID situation were slowly being put out of play by Indian Railway," he added.
The other attractive features of this policy will include priority in punctuality, no haulage for maintenance runs, timely approvals for coach refurbishment as well as itineraries, third party advertising will be allowed inside a train as well as branding of the train will be allowed.