NEW DELHI: Indian Railways has firmed up plans to run special ‘Pravasi Bharti’ trains between Allahabad and Delhi to ferry delegates of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas from the Kumbh Mela in time for the Republic Day event in the national capital, sources said. Railways will convert all third AC coaches of the special trains to second AC coaches for providing more comfort to delegates, the sources said. The 15th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas will be held in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi from January 21 to 23.
The Indian diaspora attending the event will get an opportunity to participate in the ‘Kumbh Snan’, preparations for which have been made at the sangam for the delegates. Those interested in participating in the holy bath have to register on the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas website till November 15.
While the Kumbh will be taking place from January 14 to March 4, 2019, in Allahabad in which railways will be ferrying lakhs of devotees from across the country for their holy dips, the date for the delegates to visit the Kumbh will be January 24, according to the website of the Ministry of External Affairs.
The government has instructed railways to activate its vast resources and scale up deployment of such trains to carry up to 5000 delegates who will be in Prayagraj in Allahabad. According to the sources, officials in the national transporter are apprehensive about the journey as heavy fog during peak winters is likely to delay trains on the route.
The shortest distance between the two cities is approximately 630 km and minimum time a train takes to reach Allahabad from New Delhi is 6h 44m. Keeping in view the large number of pilgrims who will travel to Allahabad at that time, railways will also increase the frequency of trains between the two cities.
The delegates will be accommodated at Prayagraj and railways’ catering arm, IRCTC will provide complementary dinner and breakfast to them. A meeting for a review of plans for the Pravasiya Bharatiya Divas delegates has been scheduled by the MEA on Monday, which will be attended by representatives of all ministries associated with the event including the railways.
The national transporter has been asked to provide details of the number of trains that they will run for the delegates and also lay down a blueprint for the promotion of Indian Railways during the event. Preparations are underway for this mela, for which the union and state governments have allocated a massive budget of Rs 2500 crore.
The Union Tourism Ministry is also organising roadshows and taking part in events, especially in European countries, to raise awareness about this mega event.