Imagine a scenic and beautiful one hour train journey along the coastline from Puri to Konark! If things fall into place, then this may soon be a reality with the Odisha state government and the Ministry of Railways working to finalise on an MoU for a railway line between the temple towns of Puri and Konark. The approximately 35-km long railway line will be constructed along the coastline at a cost of around Rs 250 crore, a railway official in the know-how of the matter told FE Online. While Puri is famous for its Lord Jagannath temple and rath yatra, Konark is known for its Sun temple.
“The new chair car train is likely to have non-AC, AC and executive chair car coaches. The train may have two stoppages enroute including one at Ramchandi temple. On demand food and attendants are some of the things that are being discussed right now, but nothing has been finalised. The proposal is at a nascent stage,” the official said. “Once a railway line between Puri and Konark is built, trains that presently terminate at Puri can be extended to Konark as well,” the official added.
Presently it takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour to travel by road between Puri and Konark. If Indian Railways has to attract passengers, it may eye a tour package by roping in IRCTC. An IRCTC tour package on the lines of the Gatimaan Express that goes to Agra may work well for the Railways. This would include stay at hotels and sight seeing activities, harnessing the tourism potential of the area and creating job opportunities for locals.
Recently, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik had said that his state government is ready to share 50% of the project cost, given its tourism potential. According to the Odisha state government, the railway line would be “extremely profitable” for Indian Railways. “With state contribution, the rate of return will be more than 20%a and the railway line will boost tourism and local economy in the heritage temple town,” feels the state government.
Patnaik’s office had tweeted, “CM @Naveen_Odisha proposes state sharing 50% of project cost for new rail line from Puri to Konark to boost tourism potential in #Odisha.” The CM office had also urged the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to expedite the project and ensure MoU signing. Prabhu on his part had within three minutes responded to the tweet saying, “We are ready to sign it any day,we are waiting for it, as it was our initiative to share ownership with states of these JVs. @Naveen_Odisha.”