Explained: What you get on Bharat Gaurav trains, and how much you'll pay
The first train, from Coimbatore to Shirdi, has launched with much fanfare; the second, from Delhi, takes off on June 21
Twenty coaches with a yellow-blue exterior, decorated with garlands, set off for a journey from Coimbatore to Shirdi on Tuesday, June 14.
Drum beats filled the air, as the first train run by a private operator, under Indian Railways’ Bharat Gaurav scheme, began its journey from the Coimbatore North railway station in Tamil Nadu.
The journey, and the stops
The first Bharat Gaurav train left Coimbatore North at 6 pm on Tuesday, June 14, and is set to reach Sainagar, Shirdi, at 7:25 am on Thursday, June 16. Operated by private player South Star Rail, the train will stop at Tiruppur, Erode, Salem, Yelahanka, Dharmavaram, Mantralayam Road and Wadi en route.
There’ll also be a five-hour stop at Mantralayam Road station, to facilitate darshan at the Mantralayam temple.
The train will make its return journey from Shirdi at 7:25 am on Friday, and reach Coimbatore at 12 noon on Saturday. There will be such trips from Coimbatore every Tuesday.
The Indian Railway Ministry on its Twitter handle, said: “Promoting India’s rich cultural heritage! Southern Railway becomes the first zone to get its first registered service provider under the ‘Bharat Gaurav’ Scheme & commence operations of the maiden service from Coimbatore North to Sainagar Shirdi, today.”
What’s special about the train
There’s many a feature the traveller can look forward to. For instance, there’s an on-rail radio jockey and the coaches are fitted with high-bass sounding speakers to play devotional songs and exchange stories. This will keep the passengers entertained during the long journey.
Private housekeeping service providers will clean the coaches at regular intervals to provide a pleasant experience to the guests. Only vegetarian food is available.
There’s a doctor on board to handle medical emergencies. Electricians, AC mechanics, fire and safety officers will also be present on board.
For better safety, private security will be deployed along with the Railway police force. The premises will be kept smoke- and toxin-free to ensure no passenger faces inconveniences.
What is the Bharat Gaurav Policy?
The Bharat Gaurav Policy, launched by the Railway Ministry in November 2021, allows private players — operators and service providers — to lease trains from the Indian Railways and operate them on theme-based circuits.
The deal tenure can range from two years to the service life of the coach, and allows the private operator to come up with special tour packages.
Operators have the freedom to decide the route, halts, the services provided and the tariff. They also take care of food, hotel stays, local transport and sightseeing on the journey.
Why theme-based trains?
The trains have been launched by the Centre to promote the tourism sectors by giving private players a free hand. The operators will run these trains on theme-based circuits through a policy which gives them the “Right of Use”.
According to the official website of Bharat Gaurav Trains, the main objective of these trains is to show Indians, as well as people around the world, the nation’s rich cultural heritage and magnificent historical places.
This will also help liberalise the railway services sector, which is mostly controlled by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC ), and help boost the domestic tourism sector.
What the operators can and cannot do
The private operators decide the kind of interior they want. They decide on the journey’s food and entertainment activities.
The operators also carry out branding on the exterior and interior of the train. They can forge tie-ups with agencies and entities for business development. The operators can further name the circuit, the train and sell advertisement space.
What the operators are not allowed to do is interfere with critical parts of the coach, as this may affect the safety of the train. They cannot serve alcohol on-board.
While the Railways will provide the staff to run the trains, the guards as well as the maintenance staff on on-board, the operators need to deploy the housekeeping and catering staff.
What kind of coaches will the train have?
The train will have conventional AC classes-I, II, III coaches along with non-AC sleeper coaches, AC chair cars and pantry cars. Depending on the targeted clientele, the operator can create a train with an appropriate mix of coaches.
What are the package prices?
The Coimbatore to Shirdi journey is around 1,458 km long. The sleepers class rate is ₹1,280, and the fares for 3-AC, 2-AC and 1-AC are, respectively, ₹2,360, ₹4,820 and ₹8,190. The bill comes to ₹2,500, ₹5,000, ₹7,000 and ₹10,000 respectively, according to a report on the communemag.com.
The first Bharat Gaurav train from Delhi, in line with the Centre’s Dekhi Apna Desh initiative, will be launched by IRCTC on June 21. The journey will cover all the prominent places associated with Lord Rama.
The all-inclusive tour for the same will start from ₹62,370 per person. This includes an 18-day train journey in 3-AC, stays at AC hotels, sight-seeing in buses, travel guides, vegetable meals, travel insurance etc.
Railways and tourism sector
According to a report on worldwidejournals.com, titled, ‘Role of Indian Railways in Tourism Industry’, “One of the best ways to see India is through the railways. Railways cover most parts of India. It makes the tourist feel the culture of India and not only that it gives a clear picture of the state. The Indian Railways is taking effective steps to attract the tourists. Railways makes tourism industry as one of the income generating industry for the Government of India.