Indian Railways Catering and Ticketing Corporation (IRCTC) has opened doors of railway saloon coaches to the public for the first time, with the first chartered saloon coach departing Old Delhi Railway Station for its maiden tour to Katra.
The privately-occupied coach, which was attached to the Jammu Mail train, had six passengers on board when it pulled out of the Old Delhi Railway Station.
The facility was till now primarily reserved for railway officials to reach places not connected by road or air.
The coach has two air-conditioned bedrooms with attached bath, a large living-cum-dining room, kitchenette and rear window for unobstructed views. The privately-occupied saloon coach comes with valet service. IRCTC has called it a 'moving house'.
According to IRCTC, the cost of chartering this saloon coach is around Rs2 lakh.
The first charter service was been booked by Royal India Train Journeys for its six customers for a saloon travelling from Delhi to Jammu.
"This will be an all inclusive tour where the guests will be offered all the comforts of a hotel. Exclusive staff will be available for services on board. Railway also provides one AC attendant and one saloon attendant for ensuring hassle free travel," IRCTC said.
The four-day tour started on Friday and the saloon will be back on 2 April.
From now on, the saloons are available for charter for the common people and the details are available on the IRCTC website, it said.
The decision to make such saloons available to people was taken soon after a meeting of chairman of the Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani, with travel and trade associations in Delhi in January this year.
The Railways has a total of 336 saloon cars across various zones, among them 62 are air-conditioned.
In the past, these luxury coaches were used by senior railway official inspection tours to remote areas as a part of their normal work. The first such facility for the public saw six travellers of a private tour operator travelling in the coaches from Delhi to Jammu.
“This will be an all-inclusive tour where the guests will be offered all the comfort of a hotel,” said an IRCTC spokesperson. “Exclusive staff will be available for services on board.”