Monday, 19 January 2015

NEW DELHI: US President Barack Obama is likely to get a taste of Indian Railway hospitality during his visit to the country. The Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation has formally invited the US President to travel on the ultra-luxury Maharajas' Express along with his family.

Though the invite, sent through the Ministry of External Affairs, doesn't mention a destination, the railways hope Obama will accept and travel to Agra on the $3,000-a-night Presidential Suite of the train. IRCTC Chairman and MD AK Manocha told ET that the invitation had been sent to Obama through the proper channels after taking clearance from the Prime Minister's Office.

Obama's visit to Agra to see the Taj Mahal is almost certain, with officials of the US secret service and Indian security personnel busy sanitising the Uttar Pradesh city and also the Expressway that links it to Noida, near Delhi.

"We sent the invite over a week ago. Though we haven't heard from the US authorities, we still have hopes. The invite has not been rejected. He is expected to travel to Agra on January 27 and the ideal thing would be to travel royalty style on the Maharajas' Express. If there is a time constraint, he is welcome to take a short ride around Delhi or even come aboard for ameal," said Manocha.

He said the train, owned and operated by IRCTC, could cover the distance between Delhi and Agra in as little as two-and-a-half hours. "It all depends upon the guest. If he so desires, the journey time can be calibrated to take longer," the IRCTC chief said.

In addition to royalty-style furnished suites, dining halls, wellequipped bars and recreational areas, the train has a conference hall, business centre and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The lavishly painted maroon and gold train was at Safdarjung railway station on Sunday, waiting to leave on the Gems of India journey to cover Agra, Ranthambore and Jaipur before returning on January 21.

"The train would require one day of maintenance and then it will be ready to carry President Obama and his family," said Manocha, adding that they just need a two-day notice to make it the best ever journey for him. The Maharajas' Express was voted as the World's Leading Luxury Train in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at the World Travel Awards.

Source: The Economic Times


Post a Comment