On the right track

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Updated: September 11, 2015 4:53 PM

It will not be wrong to say that India runs on steel

201509etw04It will not be wrong to say that India runs on steel. The presence and penetration of India’s rail network makes it one of the most vital systems to commute and connect. India’s domestic tourism potential rests primarily on this robust transport system and the Indian Railways is the largest carrier of people across all strata to places far and wide within the country. The product portfolio for tourism within the railway system is diverse. From the regular superfast express trains to the high-end luxury on wheels experience, from the religious and pilgrim special trains to the mountain railways of India, this network works like the nervous system. However, there is more that can be done to strengthen its potential in the tourism field. The mountain railways of India is a unique heritage tourism experience which is popular with both Indians and foreigners and is an integral part of the country’s rich legacy. In the luxury space, Palace on Wheels is a hit with the international tourists. Better packaging and marketing can further enhance these rail journeys as a global tourism product.

Further, in 2007, IRCTC launched the Mahaparinirvan Express, which has been attracting Buddhist pilgrims from Southeast Asia and the Far East. However, insufficient marketing at its home base and high cost have been major reasons for its lack of popularity in India. Pilgrim tourism has always been a recession free segment and in a country like India where train travel is the most common option for the vast majority of people, it is not surprising that pilgrim trains are popular amongst domestic and NRI devotees. IRCTC is all set to further tap this segment and introduce a few more trains. Apart from Hindu circuits, there are also several other circuits like the Shree Shikhar Ji Yatra Jain circuit. The Takht Parikrama Special is a special Sikh Circuit train. There is also a special package for the Shiva devotees, the Jyotirlinga Circuit. The Navagraha temples tour is another important tour down south. The government has also proposed to introduce trains for the Christian circuit, Muslim/Sufi circuit and also some other famous temple circuits across the country.

Finally, the bureaucrat who is known to be a railways specialist, is all set to get the sky in order. During my meeting with Ashwani Lohani in July in New Delhi, I stated to him that after ITDC, Indian Railways and Madhya Pradesh Tourism, the only thing that remains largely is the aviation sector and probably Air India should be his next stop. And now he is the CMD of India’s national carrier. He is known as the ‘turnaround man’ and seems all geared to give the Maharaja a refreshing avatar.

Reema Lokesh


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