By Arun Kumar Das,
New Delhi : Awaiting the return of normalcy — as well as tourists — in the Kashmir Valley, an indigenously-built vistadome (glass-top) railway coach, though ready to run, has been docked at Badgam station for months.
The 40-seater vistadome coach was announced in June last year by then Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and was manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai at an estimated cost of abut Rs 4 crore.
The see-through air-conditioned coach with large glass windows, glass roof, observation lounge and rotatable seats, a first such service in the state, aims to facilitate passengers to experience the breathtakingly beautiful locations and sites en route the 135 km from Banihal to Baramulla.
Keeping tourists in mind the seats are attached with trays similar to those in airplanes for eating and passengers can order light meals to be made available during the journey.
The vistadome coach travelled all the way and was delivered at Badgam this April. It was expected to be made operational in May, allowing visitors to Kashmir to get a delightful view of the picturesque landscape of the Valley.
“The prevailing situation is not right now to press vistadome coach into service. It will be operational once the conditions improve,” a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS, not wishing to be identified.
The specially-designed vistadome coach also has double-wide reclining seats which can be rotated 360 degrees for a panoramic view of the surroundings. It also has glass-domed ceilings, automatic sliding doors, luggage racks, multiple LED screens for entertainment and a GPS-enabled information system.
A step towards boosting tourism, the vistadome coach was first introduced for Araku valley in Vishakapatnam-Kirandul passenger train in April last year, offering a panoramic view of the hills, valleys and an exhilarating experience to tourists as it passes through tunnels.
The second vistadome coach was attached to the Jan Shatabdi between Dadar and Madgaon, on Mumbai-Goa route, in September last year.
(Arun Kumar Das can be contacted at email@example.com)