Centre Approves Luxury Train For Andhra

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New Delhi, Feb 19 (UNI) The government today said it had accorded 'in-principle' approval to a proposal of the Andhra Pradesh government to run a luxury tourist train on the lines of 'Palace on Wheels', but certain issues had to be resolved before the project could be operationalised.

One such issue pertained to the tie-up between the Railways and the Andhra Prdaesh government on recovery of haulage costs and revenue-sharing, which was yet to be finalised.

The Centre had conveyed this to Mr K S Rao, an MP from Andhra Pradesh who has been making a vociferous demand for a luxury train for the southern state on the pattern of the grandiose 'Palace of Wheels' in Rajasthan.

Mr Rao, who represents Eluru parliamentary constituency, said he was keen to see the project -- Southern Splendour Luxury Train -- through at the earliest and would now take up the issue with the Railway Ministry and the state government.

''I am keen to hasten the process of consultations and reaching an understanding on sharing of revenue and recovery of haulage costs in view of the importance of the prestigious project,'' he added.

Mr Rao said the project would boost tourism and provide a unique opportunity to both domestic and foreign tourists to travel through four southern states of the country.

More importantly, it would acquaint the tourists with the rich cultural heritage and scenic beauty of Andhra Pradesh and other states.

Mr Rao said he had also requested Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni for release of Rs 10 crore as Central assistance to the project, which had already been approved in principle under the ministry's 'Large Revenue Generating Scheme'.

The Centre has earlier approved a luxury train for Karnataka, and it is to be launched shortly.

This will be south India's first five-star luxury train covering various tourist destinations of Karnataka and Goa.

The train, which is likely to have 19 coaches, has a capacity of 110 passengers, and will provide every possible luxury on the wheels, including conferencing, Internet connectivity, gymnasium and a spa lounge.

The train, having an ambience of royal heritage of Karnataka, also has a library, both in physical and digital form.

It will touch Mysore, the city of palaces, the rich architectural Somanathpur, Halebid and Belur temples and the Wildlife Sanctuary of Dandeli in Western Ghats.

The train also link two world heritage sites -- Badami, the capital of early Chalukyas, besides Aihole and Pattadkal temples, and Hampi, the seat of Vijaynagar Empire.

The tourists will also be able to see the tallest Bahubali idol at Shravana Belagola, a Jain pilgrimage centre.

UNI SKS SB HS1355

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