The proposed luxury train for the tourists, an ambitious project planned by the Orissa tourism department in association with its counterparts in the states of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh has been kept at abeyance.
With the Railways not prepared to bear any expense and asking the collaborating states to bear all the operating costs of the proposed train, the proposition is not turning out to be viable for the states.
Unlike states like Rajasthan which have an appreciable influx of international tourists and high-end domestic tourists who are capable of using luxury train services, the picture is comparatively bleak for states like Orissa, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh which do not have a sizeable inflow of foreign tourists. For instance, Orissa gets less than one per cent of the total foreign tourist arrivals in the country.
Private operators for the proposed luxury train service are also hard to come by. “The proposed luxury tourist train is now on the backburner as the train is not perceived to be commercially viable for the states who have to bear all its operating costs. The Andhra Pradesh government has now roped in Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) which will work out the modalities for making the proposed luxury train commercially viable”, an official source told Business Standard.
It may be noted that the Orissa government had presented a proposal to the Union tourism ministry for starting a luxury train for the tourists. West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have evinced interest in partnering us for this venture. Orissa had asked these two states to come out with the details of the partnership like sharing of revenue and operational costs.
The proposed luxury train project for tourists involving an investment of Rs 37 crore is to be taken up on the public-private partnership (PPP) mode.
Earlier, the state tourism department had negotiated with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for working out the modalities of the proposed luxury train.
Apart from providing catering services, IRCTC will also be responsible for designing the interiors of the train.
The luxury train will provide the tourists with a flavour of the state’s wildlife, beaches, Buddhist sites, exquisite temples, arts and crafts, dance forms, Chilika lake and the tribal culture.