New Delhi: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC)- operated third train between Varanasi and Indore, the Kashi Mahakal Express, began its first commercial run from Thursday.
The train was flagged off on February 16 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi, where he launched over 50 projects worth Rs 1,250 crore.
Till Wednesday, about 90 per cent of the berths were reserved. The railway officials said that 612 out of 648 berths were booked by 7 pm on Wednesday.
The new Kashi Mahakal Express will connect three places -- Jyotirlinga-Omkareshwar (near Indore in Madhya Pradesh), Mahakaleshwar (Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh) and Kashi Vishwanath (Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh).
The Kashi Mahakal Express will operate three days in a week and it will be a bi-weekly service through the Sultanpur-Lucknow route and a weekly service via the Prayagraj route.
The Varanasi-Indore Kashi Mahakal Express will depart from Varanasi at 2.45 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday to reach Indore at 9.40 a.m. on Wednesday and Friday.
Similarly, the train will start from Indore at 10.55 a.m. every Wednesday and Friday and will reach Varanasi next morning at 6 a.m.
The train will have stoppages at Ujjain, Sant Hirdaram Nagar, Bina, Jhansi, Kanpur and Sultanpur stations in both directions.
Meanwhile, Kashi Mahakal Express will be a weekly service via Prayagraj route.
Varanasi-Indore Kashi Mahakal Express will depart from Varanasi at 3.15 p.m. every Sunday to reach Indore at 9.40 a.m. the next day. Indore-Varanasi Express will depart from Indore at 10.55 a.m. every Monday and reach Varanasi at 5 a.m. the next day.
This train will halt at Ujjain, Sant Hirdaram Nagar, Bina, Jhansi, Kanpur and Allahabad stations in both directions.
Kashi Mahakal Express will follow a dynamic fare structure like the other two Tejas Express trains, and one-way journey from Varanasi to Indore in Kashi Mahakal Express will cost Rs 1,951 inclusive of four meals.
According to IRCTC officials, Indore-Varanasi Kashi Mahakal Express will be the first private train that will run overnight and for a comfortable long distance journey, the train will feature a host of facilities.
IRCTC will serve vegetarian food, housekeeping services, on-board security services and bedrolls.
The IRCTC officials said that passengers will also get complementary insurance of Rs 10 lakh.
The train will have an advance reservation period of 120 days and will only have the general and foreign tourist quotas. The current booking will be available to the passengers on the platform itself after preparation of first chart, four hours to five hours before the scheduled departure of the train.
To facilitate travel for pilgrims, IRCTC is also introducing special tour packages for passengers who want to see the pilgrim centres enroute. The tour options are; Mahakal Darshan (Ujjain-Omkareshwar), Bhopal-Sanchi-Bhimbetka, Malwa Jyotrilinga Darshan (Ujjain-Omkareshwar-Maheshwar-Indore) and Bhopal-Sanchi-Bhimbetka-Ujjain. Other tour options include, Kashi, Ayodhya and Prayag; Kashi Darshan; Kashi, Prayag, Ayodhya; Kashi and Prayag and only Kashi.
The train has features like CCTV cameras, which will be monitored online around the clock from the IRCTC centres, whereas for the first time the IRCTC has brought the marshals in the train for passengers' safety and also to make people aware to not smoke inside the train as it has smoke and heat sensors installed in the coaches as well as in the bathroom.
For the visually impaired passengers, the train coaches will have the seat numbers written in braille, and the catering staff dressed in yellow kurta and payjama with a rudraksh mala in their neck to promote the theme. Earlier, the IRCTC has successfully launched two Tejas Express trains on New Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad routes.