In a bid to connect important pilgrimage destinations of eastern India with the northeast at cheapest available rates, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain jointly flagged off Astha Circuit Train from Kamakhya Railway Station on Friday. An innovative initiative of NF Railway and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), this dedicated tourist train will take travellers to popular pilgrimage destinations starting from Kamakhya for Puri and Bhubaneswar with stoppage at Kolkata. Hailing the central government's initiatives for bolstering communication network in the entire north-eastern region, the Assam Chief Minister said that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government has taken pragmatic measures for improving surface, air, water and rail connectivity. "This includes starting of 25 new trains, implementation of 20 projects for improving rail connectivity and sanctioning of another 24 new projects since 2014," Sonowal added. Sonowal further stressed on the need for creating friendly working environment to ensure speedy implementation of all the ongoing and proposed projects. Sonowal asked the railway authorities to regularly interact with the people living near the project sites for generating goodwill. He also requested the public to cooperate with the railways so that the projects sail through smoothly. Asserting the state government's full support to ensure timely execution of the railway projects, the Chief Minister said that suitable directions will be issued to the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police to extend all necessary help to railways. Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain while speaking on the occasion urged the people to take benefit of this pilgrimage train, which offers cheapest available tour rates. The Union Minister also sought state government's support for popularising the new train for better tourist response. This six nights and seven days tour from Kamakhya will cost Rs 6,161 per person for the entire trip including breakfast, lunch, dinner, sleeper class accommodation and visit to popular religious destinations, covering Gangasagar, Swamy Narayan Temple, Kalighat, Birla Temple, Jagannath Temple, Konark Temple and Lingaraj Temple. The Astha Circuit Train will have various boarding stations including Kamakhya, Alipurduar, New Cooch Behar, New Jalpaiguri, Malda, New Farakka, Pakur, Rampurhat, Bolpur and Kolkata. Tourists can avail the services for booking through IRCTC website or through registered e-ticket agents or from any office of IRCTC.