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India's first private train run under the Bharath Gaurav scheme to promote domestic tourism left Coimbatore yesterday heading for the holy city of Shirdi. The train is operated by South Star Rail, a Coimbatore-based private rail service operator.
The new service was flagged off from Coimbatore North Station at 6 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday, June 14) and will reach the Sainagar Shirdi station in the temple town of Shirdi at 7:25 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday, June 16).
The private train service has stops at Tiruppur, Erode, Salem, Yelahanka (Bangalore), Dharmavaram, Mantralayam Road and Wadi. At Mantralayam Road, the private train will stop for a period of 5 hours to allow users to attend darshan at Mantralayam temple.
The train will commence its return journey back From Shirdi at 7:25 a.m. on Friday (June 17) and will reach Coimbatore North at 12 noon on Saturday (June 18). The return journey will see stoppages at Wadi, Dharmavaram, Yelahanka, Salem, Erode and Tiruppur.
The train set with the first private Bharat Gaurav train featured a unique blue and yellow livery and was pulled by a WAP4 electric locomotive painted in the same shade of blue used for the coaches. The private Bharath Gaurav train run by South Star Rail featured a total of 20 coaches including one pantry car, two luggage cum brake vans, five sleeper class coaches, eight 3-tier AC coaches, three 2-tier AC coaches and a solitary 1-tier AC coach. The first train for the Coimbatore North - Shirdi and back roundtrip that departed Coimbatore yesterday carried a total of 1,100 passengers.
The private Bharat Gaurav train running between Coimbatore and Shirdi serves high-quality vegetarian meals to its passengers and also features a snack trolley. Passengers also get a host of devotional magazines and a bedtime kit. The train's coaches come equipped with arrays of speakers and the private service also features an on-rail RJ. The train will feature devotional songs, spiritual stories and live interviews to keep the journey pleasant.
The train will also feature an on-board doctor to take care of any medical emergencies on the way. Special assistance will be provided to assist any elderly or disabled passengers journeying on this private train.
So what exactly does the Indian Railways get from allowing the private operator to run this temple town special? The operator of the Coimbatore-Shirdi Bharat Gaurav private train - South Star Rail - will pay Indian Railways a total of Rs 3.34 crore every year. This amount includes the annual Right to use charges of Rs. 27.79 lakhs (excluding GST) and Rs. 3.07 Crores towards fixed haulage charges.
Indian Railways will also charge additional variable haulage charges of Rs 38.22 lakhs (excl GST) for the 5 day trip from Coimbatore to Sainagar, Shirdi and back. Similar charges will be levied every time the train heads out on the trip.
Thoughts On The New Bharat Gaurav Private Train
The new Bharath Gaurav trains marks a new era for Indian Railways as private-operated trains start hitting the rails. While there may be protests from sections of society who oppose any sort of privatization on the railways, the new train will add a chunk of revenue to the coffers of our railway network which will hopefully be used to improve the infrastructure for the rest of us taking the trains everyday.