After the successful run of the two Tejas Express on New Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad routes, IRCTC is launching the third private train service linking three Jyotirlingas – Omkareshwar (Near Indore), Mahakaleshwar (Ujjain) and Kashi Vishwanath (Varanasi).
Catering to the long-time demand, the Kashi Mahakal Express connecting Indore with Varanasi is being flagged off on February 16 from Varanasi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
To be operated by the Indian Railways owned travel operator, the regular commercial run will begin from February 20 facilitating the pilgrims to visit religious places in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Light devotional music, two dedicated private guards in every coach and only vegetarian meals will be some of the new features of the fully 3-AC service that will run thrice a week between Varanasi and Indore.
The train will cover 1,131 km between Varanasi and Indore via Lucknow and a distance of 1,102 km between Varanasi and Indore via Prayagraj (Allahabad) in approximately 19 hours.
While Tejas service is equipped with all AC Executive and Chair Car seating arrangement and meant for a day-long journey, Kashi Mahakal Express which is for overnight travel with fully 3-AC service with 15 AC coaches, a modular pantry and two power cars.
Launched last month, Mumbai Tejas Express is running with full occupancy and the revenue collection is ranging between Rs 11.1 lakh and Rs 11.5 lakh per day. However, the Lucknow Tejas launched in October last year, is currently having about 80 per cent occupancy and the revenue earning is ranging between Rs 9 and Rs 10 lakh a day.
All these three trains have dynamic fare system and IRCTC is responsible for fixing the fare and providing other onboard facilities including catering and other amenities including high-quality vegetarian food, bedrolls and housekeeping and security services.
However, though IRCTC is operating these trains deciding fare structure and providing onboard amenities, the safety and security entailing signalling system, loco drivers, platform and stations are with Indian Railways.
Since these trains have upgraded amenities with state-of-the-art infrastructure passengers have to pay 20 to 30 per cent more than the regular service as the fare is determined through dynamic fare system.
IRCTC is making tour packages of cities and religious sites covered by the train such as Kashi, Omkareshwar, Mahakaleshwar, Bhopal, Sanchi, Ujjain, Bhimbetka, Ayodhya and Prayag.
Railway Board chairman V K Yadav said the next pilgrimage service will be the Ramayana express, which takes pilgrims to locations associated with Lord Ram, will get Ramayana-themed interiors and bhajans playing on board.
The train is likely to be launched after March 10. The train will originate from different locations— north, south, east and west —so that people from across the country can avail its services.
Kashi Mahakal Express is available for booking exclusively on IRCTC website www.irctc.co.in and its mobile app “IRCTC Rail Connect”. There will be no booking at railway reservation counters.
The trains will have advance reservation period of 120 days. While there will be no concession tickets in the train, children below 5 years of age have been exempted from fare and will be booked with their parents.
Current Booking will be available to users after preparation of the first chart which will normally be 4 hours to 5 minutes before the scheduled departure of the train.
All passengers travelling on IRCTC trains will be provided with a complimentary Rail Travel Insurance of up to Rs 10 Lakhs IRCTC is further facilitating the passengers by allowing automatic full refund of the train fare in case of cancellation of the train for both waitlisted as well as confirmed e-tickets.