Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Saturday unveiled a special train that would be run on Heritage routes across the country. The Minister after inspecting a train modified as a steam loco train at the MGR Central Railway Station here said more such trains would be introduced on heritage routes in the coming months.
Elaborating on the concept, Vaishnaw said the Railways had planned to introduce a new concept — ‘Heritage special’ which would be built using ‘steam engines’ as the theme.
“The steam engine as we all know, is very emotionally connected to us and even though it is not running today, we thought we can create a new concept that looks like a steam engine but actually operates by electricity,” he told reporters.
The Minister, who began his speech in Tamil, said the special concept was presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he (the PM) believes in the concept which is ‘virasat bhi, vikas bhi’ which means ‘heritage’ and ‘development’ should go together.
“This new concept has been created as heritage special, I thank the very good technical officers, staff and Golden Rock Railway Workshop, Tiruchirappalli, Perambur, and Avadi who have all contributed in creating this concept,” he said.
To a query, he said the special train would be first tested on long heritage routes and later it would be open for tourists in two-three months.
“We will first try this and then manufacture more of this. In another two or three months, it should get into public use. Basically, our testing on the ground is complete, we received the safety certificate for it. we will be running it on longer routes and then take it into regular commercial operation” he said.
Vaishnaw said the Ministry would initially look at popular heritage routes across the country for launching the special train.
“Of course, Tamil Nadu will definitely have one (special train). We will discuss with the tourism department of Tamil Nadu and see which is the best route. All across the country, we will run it ” he said.
Asked about the funding went for developing this concept, he said, “This is more of a modification of the existing things, the boiler is newly constructed. it is not very expensive.”
On the operation of the North-South corridor for freight trains, Vaishnaw explained that the Ministry is working with a ‘comprehensive programme’ like which are the major sources of cargo, what are the major destinations for the cargo.
“That is the approach we are following. What railways is thinking is that we are now looking at strengthening the existing (freight) corridors,” he said.
Vaishnaw said the average allocation for railway development in Tamil Nadu grew to Rs 6,070 crore from Rs 870 crore which was allocated before 2014.
“Rs 870 crore vs Rs 6,070 crore for rail development in Tamil Nadu. And that is the change which has happened in the last nine years and that is why you are able to see so many new projects in Tamil Nadu,” he said.
On the launch of Vande Bharat trains, he said the Railways was manufacturing at the rate of one train a week. “More trains will be coming in South,” he said.
“The first objective that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave us is, we must connect all the states. So, by June-end all the states are now connected wherever electrified railway is there, so with that connection now we are taking more routes within the states,” he said.
The special train launched today would consist of three air-conditioned executive chair cars and one airc-onditioned pantry and restaurant car.
The concept for the coaches was conceived, and developed by Southern Railway in consultation with Research Designs and Standards Organisation and Railway Board.
The four air-conditioned coaches, each having a capacity of 48 seats, were converted with modern features along with aesthetically designed interiors and fittings to have a comfortable experience for the tourists.