The stylish and suave interiors of the saloon coaches, in which the top officials of the Indian Railways travel, remind one of the fine elegance and luxury seen during the colonial rule in India. The saloon coaches have all the modern facilities that one would find in a room at a four-starred hotel.
They house a living room, a kitchenette, two bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a speedometer which shows the speed of the train. The huge rear window of the coach offers a magnificent view of the outside. The rooms in the saloon cars are decorated tastefully with the fine blend of elegance and comfort. The top railway officials use this facility to reach various stations and railway divisions for their annual visits and inspections.
During the annual visit of the general manager, these luxury coaches are not just attached to any train. Instead a special train, the GM Special, with only 5–10 coaches including the saloon cars and special coaches for other railway officials, is allowed.
One such GM Special reached Kottayam from Thrivananthapuram recently. In these special trains, apart from the general manager, there will be saloon cars for the chief operations manager, chief commercial manager and the DRM. There will also be a first-class AC coach for other officials and an SLR coach for the supporting staff. A huge convoy of railway officials always travels along with the GM in order to clarify his queries and also to provide the top official with the files and documents concerning various sections.
The British had designed special luxury coaches in trains as it was impossible for them to find appropriate boarding facilities whenever the officers visited remote villages. The Indian Railways currently has 336 saloon coaches. In the Kerala division, the divisional railway managers at Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad, and the chief administrative officer of the manufacturing department at Kochi use the saloon coaches to reach various divisions.
Charter service for public
The luxurious saloon coaches, which were available only for the top railway officials, were opened for the public in March. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) revealed in a release that the first charter service of the saloon was hired by Royal India Train Journeys for their VIP customers. Six passengers began their luxury train journey from Katra in Jammu and Kashmir on March 30. The cost of chartering of this Saloon is around Rs 2 lakh. For information and booking of this exclusive service visit the official website of IRCTC.