Cautioning railways against taking the tourism and pilgrimage sector "lightly", a parliamentary panel said Thursday it was "dismayed" at the low revenue generated from luxury trains run by the national transporter.
The standing committee on railways, headed by Sudip Bandyopadhyay, in its action-taken report has come down hard on the railway ministry and said it should not only increase the budget allocation for promotion of tourism, but also keep a separate corpus for promotion of places of pilgrimage.
"The committee caution the ministry not to take the tourism and pilgrimage sector too lightly as it may prove a hidden treasure for railways to increase revenue if explored judiciously," it said.
Railways in its reply has said that during financial year 2016-2017, IRCTC operated 67 Bharat Darshan trips, two Aastha circuit train tours, five Buddhist special and three trips of semi-luxury trains. During 2017-2018 till December, IRCTC has operated 54 trips of Bharat Darshan, eight trips of Aastha Circuit train tours and three Buddhist special tours.
The committee said railways should provide wide publicity to the existence of such trains running through pilgrimage sites as it would "spark the wanderlust and adventure instincts of tourists".
The total revenue earned from the five luxury trains between 2012-2017 was Rs 497.31 crore, railways said, with an average of Rs 99.46 crore per year with the railways' share being 52 per cent of the total revenue.
The committee said that at a time when the tourism sector was growing significantly, such low revenue is a cause of concern.
"The committee are distressed to note such diminutive amount as revenue from these luxury trains puts a question mark over the operation of such trains.
"We fail to understand how railways calculate their profit and loss incurred on running these luxury trains when railways do not maintain the record of expenditure spent on them," it said.
The ministry in its reply has said it has instructed state tourism corporations as well as IRCTC to maintain records of all expenditures incurred on luxury tourist trains along with revenue earned.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)