BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Feb 17: In a bid to connect important pilgrimage destitions of eastern India with the Northeast at cheapest available tour rates, Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal and Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain on Friday jointly flagged off the Astha Circuit Train from Kamakhya railway station.
An innovative initiative of NF Railway and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), this dedicated tourist train will take travelers to popular pilgrimage destitions from Kamakhya to Puri and Bhubaneswar with stoppage at Kolkata.
Hailing the Union government’s initiatives in expanding communication network in the entire Northeastern region, Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal said the BJP-led NDA government has taken pragmatic measures for improving surface, air, water and rail connectivity. This includes starting of 25 new trains, implementation of 20 projects for improving rail connectivity and sanctioning of another 24 new projects since 2014.
The Chief Minister further stressed on the need for creating friendly working environment to ensure speedy implementation of all ongoing and proposed projects. Sonowal further asked the Railway authority to regularly interact with people living near project sites for generating goodwill.
Asserting the State government’s full support to ensure timely execution of the railway projects, the Chief Minister said suitable directives will be issued to deputy commissioners and superintendents of police to extend all necessary help to the Railways.
Union MoS for Railways Rajen Gohain, speaking on the occasion, urged the people to take benefit of the pilgrimage train, which offers cheapest available tour rates. Gohain also sought the State government’s support to popularize the new train for better tourist response.
Gohain informed that for the construction of flyovers on the crossings between Kamakhya to New Guwahati railway station, Rs 3,000 crore has already been sanctioned by the Centre. He further said, “Satabdi train service will be started between Guwahati and Dibrugarh soon. Funds have been sanctioned for the construction of Silghat bridge. Survey works for laying new rail lines in different parts of the State have also been started.
Gohain said the local administration should help make railway areas free from encroachment for different development works. “In this regard, no compromise will be made,” he added.
This 6 nights-7 days Astha Circuit Train tour from Kamakhya will cost Rs 6,161 per person for the entire trip including breakfast, lunch, dinner, sleeper class accommodation and visit to popular religious destitions covering Gangasagar, Sri Swamy rayan Temple, Kalighat, Birla Temple, Sri Jaganth Temple, Kork Temple and Lingaraj Temple.
The train will have various boarding stations including Kamakhya, Alipurduar, New Cooch Behar, New Jalpaiguri, Malda, New Farakka, Pakur, Rampurhat, Bolpur and Kolkata. Tourists can avail the services for booking through IRCTC website or through registered e-ticket agents or from any office of IRCTC.
On Friday, the Astha Circuit Train started its first journey from the Kamakhya station with 162 passengers on board.
Chief Minister’s Media Adviser Hrishikesh Goswami, MLAs Ramendra rayan Kalita and Bhabesh Kalita, general magers of NF Railway Chahatey Ram and HK Jaggi were also present among others in the programme.