Heritage Train to run through Punjab and Haryana

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New Delhi, Oct 1 (UNI) Yet another luxury tourist train is in the offing on the line of the Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey, Goden Chariot and the Fairy Queen.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Railway Ministry and the Punjab Government to run within two years time a luxury tourist train which would expose the tourists to cultural heritage, palaces, gurudwaras and natural beauty of Punjab.

The proposed train will cover popular destinations in north India including Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib, Chandigarh, Dharamshala, Patiala and Kurukshetra besides Agra, Delhi and Jaipur in its 7 day itinerary.

The Rs 36 crore train which is being manufactured at the Kapurthala Coach Factory, will have coaches equipped with 5-star facilities with rakes comprising saloons, restaurant cars, multiple cuisines, lounge bars and observation cars with a viewing gallery, gym, spa, beauty saloon, library, games room and a computer centre.

Punjab Government through Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board would undertake the overall management of the project including on board and off board facilities and its marketing in India and abroad. Indian Railways would be responsible for upkeep of the train. The state would have a share of Rs 13.5 crore in the total cost of the project which is being promoted as part of the 'Incredible India' campaign.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Tourism Minister Hira Singh Gabria were among those present at the MOU signing ceremony carried out by Principal Secretary Geetika Kalla on behalf of Punjab government and Director (Tourism) Ashok Kumar on behalf of Indian Railways.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Badal said it was a long cherished demand of the Punjab Government that there should be a special tourist train to link all important destinations in the state.

"today is an historic day for us," he said.

The Chief Minister said tourism is a medium for national integration and promotion of culture.

Mrs Soni said at least 10 more heritage luxury trains would be introduced before the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010. She said the train would be popular among NRIs who would like to see historic places of Punjab.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, said Indian Railways had plans to link all historic places and important cities by luxury trains which will also help the country earn foreign exchange. He said as desired by Chief Minister Badal, Indian Railways would help the state initially by raising finances needed for the project.

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