Published on : Saturday, December 19, 2020
The Rail Bhavan in India has been asked to have issued a fresh policy on the way of utilizing its luxury saloon coaches for the purpose of tourism, two years after it was declared by Piyush Goyal, the Railway Minister but couldn’t succeed in gaining popularity.
According to the sources of the railway ministry, the highly luxurious saloon coaches with carriages of colonial era-style, traditionally meant to host senior officers of the railway department above the ranks of Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) of zones, will be allotted on lease to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation at the rate of 7 per cent of depreciated capital cost of the saloon annually.
As per the guidelines framed by the Indian Railways this week, the IRCTC will have to pay the minimum guarantee charges of Rs. 10.1 lakh additionally on a per saloon per year basis. A minimum guarantee is the amount a producer is free from the seller, irrespective of the way a product is welcomed in the market.
“Only saloons which are older than 15 years are to be leased to IRCTC under this policy initially for a period of 5 years,” said the guidelines dated 14 December. The Print has seen a copy of the guidelines.
The IRCTC will be free to make a decision on the tariffs to be charged from tourists for the saloons, according to the rules.
As these saloon cars are furnished luxuriously, the Railways clarified, “Saloon cars shall be handed over to IRCTC without the existing assets inside saloon like furniture, TV, fridge etc which may be utilized by concerned ZR (Zonal Railways) suitably like in Rest Houses, ORH (Officers Rest Houses), etc.”
Sources said that the move will make revenue for the national transporter, whose earnings have dropped in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Confirming the development, D.J. Narain, the spokesperson for the railway ministry have explained that the saloon tourism plan is “in a pilot stage” at present and can be considered “part of Railway Tourism facilitation programs and initiatives of the past”.
He explained that this would aid the Railways to earn revenue without affecting any other passenger services or freight operations.