Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested railways to run trains between Patna Sahib and Amritsar, two major Sikh pilgrimage centres and also to run trains connecting thematic religious destinations such as linking the places visited by devotees of Lord Krishna and Vaishnavites.
While chairing a council of ministers meeting recently where some groups of secretaries made presentations about their five-year plans, PM suggested that the trains on Patna Sahib and Amritsar route can have on-board devotional activities including shabad kirtan and langar. Sources said running such trains could be financially viable considering the huge number of devotees who visit these holy shrines.
The railways ministry has been trying new ideas to push its earning at a time when sharp decline in revenue has become a major cause of concern. Officials said the PM also suggested some new ideas to generate additional revenue such as charging for wifi and all these will be explored.
The ticketing and hospitality arm of railways, IRCTC, has been running special tourist trains to cater to the need of pilgrims such as the one on Ramayana circuit covering the prominent sacred places associated with Lord Rama.
Sources said PM has also suggested that all departments concerned should look at a plan to connect tourist and pilgrimage attractions along the Ganga which can be a 7-10 days package. Officials said Modi made a reference to this as a part of Arth Ganga initiative, which he had first talked about in Kanpur on December 14. He had asked governments of five Gangetic states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal – to focus on promoting religious and adventure tourism on the river to generate sustainable income to clean the Ganga.
Modi had said the focus should shift from Namami Gange to Arth Ganga, which would emerge as a sustainable development model through economic activities.