NEW DELHI: Luxury ride in railway saloons will no longer remain a VIP preserve. Anyone can now book a saloon — which was so far reserved only for official inspection and travel by the railway minister and other top officials — to travel in style to destinations of choice, but for a price. The Railway Board earlier this year decided to allow hiring of saloons to private players for luxury travel. There are a total of 336 saloon cars across all railway zones, 62 of them air-conditioned.
The Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been advertising about the saloon cars at the ongoing ITB Berlin, world’s leading travel trade show focusing on hottest tourist destinations. The idea is to woo foreign tour and travel agencies. According to railway sources, the Berlin stall has received respectable number of queries regarding hiring of saloon cars.
The closest to such exclusive travel experience that a common passenger can enjoy is the tourist car, which can be booked by large groups, but has amenities essential only for an overnight journey. Saloon cars are adequately built to facilitate stay for up to five days.