Punjab and Orient Express plan to run tourism train

March 4th, 2008 - 6:33 pm ICT by admin  

Chandigarh, March 4 (IANS) The Punjab government Tuesday gave “in principle” approval to the RS.400 million ($10 million) train tourism project to be implemented in collaboration with the Singapore-based Orient Express Hotels Ltd (OEHL). The approval came at a meeting between Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and an official team of OEHL, led by Tom Evers Swindell, the company’s Asia regional director.

The train will be on the lines of the Palace on Wheels run in Rajasthan.

OEHL is operating 50 luxury hotels, restaurants, tourist trains and river cruise operations in 25 countries including Britain, the US, Russia, Australia, France, Italy, Argentina and South Africa.

Punjab government officials said OEHL’s interest in the project could be owing to the large number of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and foreigners visiting Punjab. A large number of them come to the holiest of Sikh shrines, Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar.

“There is tremendous potential for train tourism in Punjab,” Swindell told Chief Minister Badal during the meeting.

The proposed train, aimed at high-end tourists, would cover most distances at night, enabling people to see tourist places during the daytime.

The train is proposed to have 12 luxury air-conditioned coaches with three coupes each.

Three lounge cars with the facilities of game rooms, beauty saloon, ayurvedic massage parlour, health club, library, computer centre, a curio shop and a business and communication centre would be attached along with two restaurant cars and one kitchen car on this train.

The train will have multi-cuisine restaurants and relaxed seating arrangement.

A Punjab government spokesman said approval from the central government for this project has already been taken and only few formalities remain to be completed.

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