Panaji: A holiday ride to Goa from Mumbai by train will now come with a touch of Goan luxury.
Come December 30, the Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) will introduce a thrice-a-week luxury train from the commercial capital to India's best known beach-holiday destination, Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar told reporters.
The train, according to the minister, would have Goan design elements incorporated into its carriages to give travellers a look and feel of the former Portuguese colony.
"Holidayers will be able to get a feel of Goa, while travelling here, on board the train itself even before they reach here," Parulekar said.
"The concept is similar to that of the Deccan Odyssey, but the train will reach that class gradually. The interiors have a Goa ambience that may not be of five-star quality rightaway, but we are hoping passengers will at least manage to enjoy a three-star experience for now," Parulekar claimed.
The Deccan Odyssey, also called the 'Blue limousine on rails' is a luxury train with 21 imperial compartments, which include a dining lounge and a health spa et al, which offers several holiday travel packages across central India and is popular with high-spending tourists.
The concept of the special holiday train was discussed by Parulekar and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who was in Goa to attend a Konkan Railway Corporation function here last week.
"The tourism minister asked me to start a special holiday train. I told him if rakes were available, we could do it before the New Year," Prabhu had said.
Goa is connected to the Indian Railway network through the South Central Railway and the relatively new Konkan Railway route. While a number of trains on the latter route connect Goa to the rest of the country, the nearest urban connectivity hub is Mumbai, around 600 km from here.
Parulekar said that the special, yet-unnamed holiday train could work wonders, adding to the joy of Goa-bound foreign tourists who travel from international destinations.
"Tourists from Europe often complain that they don't have direct connectivity to Goa from their countries. Now they can come to Mumbai and from Mumbai, they can take this pleasant ride to Goa," Parulekar said.
Goa annually gets three million tourists, of whom half a million are foreigners.
"It will leave every alternate day for the first few weeks from Mumbai. Some time after January, the understanding we have with Indian Railways is that it will be a daily train," Parulekar said, adding that bookings will be done through the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation.
For the current tourist season, the IRCTC has also floated travel packages with a Goa focus.