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President Ram Nath Kovind will be visiting Ayodhya in a special train of the Indian Railways on August 29. The first time President Kovind took a train was when he visited his birthplace in Uttar Pradesh. That was significant as it was the first time after a gap of 15 years when an incumbent president had travelled by train. Previous presidents, since India independence, availed a special saloon. This was discontinued by the current president so that the money can be used for other costs that could help the country.
The special train that has been organised by the Indian Railways will have an office for Ram Nath Kovind. The train will have all the facilities, such as free WiFi among others. The Indian Railways has taken extra measures in terms of security. A rule book is prescribed in the security protocol of the President and the measures have to be followed strictly at all times. Apart from this, staff are appointed to monitor the tracks and level crossings. Special monitoring is done in some sensitive spots in densely populated areas.
India's first president, Dr Rajendra Prasad, often used to take train journeys. Earlier, in 2006, former President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the last president to travel on a train, when he travelled from Delhi to Dehradun in 2006 to attend a parade at the Indian Military Academy (IMA). Dr Kalam's train used to be a special saloon; a vintage two-coach carriage for the President. They were run by the Indian railways. It was later declared unserviceable in 2004.
The Presidential saloon, which was in use since the Indian independence, has been discontinued citing COVID costs. The Railways issued a statement saying it had requested the President to travel by 'people's transport' in order to help the post-Covid rebuild. The statement read,
"This saved the exchequer crores of rupees annually utilized in the making and maintenance of the saloon. Post-Covid as the country enters into resurgence and a rebuilding mode, the Indian Railways had requested the President to travel by the people's transport."