Indian Union Railway minister –Lalu Prasad Yadav – the darling of the masses and the favorite whipping-boy of the media has added another feather to Indian railways.
Two premium trains of India – Shatabdi and Rajdhani – will now be boasting on-board free internet and direct-to-home (DTH) services.
The premium trains have been consistently loosing market share over past couple of years to low cost budget airlines offering very competitive rates. In a bid to stem this loosing streak, the Indian railway minister is expected to announce many new initiatives including Free Internet access and DTH services.
According to ministry officials, the railway minister may also announce launching DTH services on-board a couple of tourist-specific trains to be launched later this year on lines of the Buddhist circuit luxury train service, Mahaparinirvana Special Buddhist Heritage Train.
The tourism ministry has been exploring the idea with the railways for launching at least 5-7 tourist trains as a large number of foreign tourists visiting India do not visit places beyond select destinations like Goa, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
“Providing DTH services or installing satellite radio on-board such trains is not unthinkable. We have conducted the feasibility study, and it is just a matter of starting the process,” the ministry sources said.
The upcoming railway budget may also open up advertising opportunities on select trains. Under this proposal, which has been successfully implemented in the southern part of the country, companies will pay a fixed fee for advertising on the trains. [source]
I had not expected much from Lalu when he was named the union Railways minister, however, in last 5 years he bought a sea-change in Indian railway services and kudos to him for doing that!
I personally love train journeys, but one of the reasons why I have preferred low-cost airlines in recent past was long train journeys break you off completely from the world – no TV, no Internet.