The IRCTC on Tuesday signed an agreement with the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) to refurbish the state's Golden Chariot train and restart its operations from March next year.
The 18-coach-long luxury train has 44 guest rooms that can accommodate 84 guests. It covers tourist attractions in Karnataka and Goa.
The train's operations were stopped in March last year due to low occupancy rate.
The agreement between the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and the KSTDC was signed at a ceremony here in the presence of Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi, Minister of Tourism of Karnataka C T Ravi and Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav.
Speaking on the occasion, Ravi said, "Ensure that no train makes losses. Don't keep high fares, have competitive rates. Sit together and resolve any differences (that may) arise between IRCTC and KSTDC."
He said the Karnataka government and the KSTDC had operated and maintained the Golden Chariot since its inception in 2008 and it was the only luxury train in south India.
Yadav expressed confidence that the IRCTC and the KSTDC will successfully operate and market the Golden Chariot for domestic and international tourists.
He assured all cooperation and necessary support for the project.
The IRCTC will announce in a week's time the new schedule and tariff for the Golden Chariot. Initially, two trips per month will be offered, KSTDC Managing Director Kumar Pushkar told PTI on the sidelines of the event.
Earlier, the tariff was USD 600 per day, approximately Rs 43,000.
The train's previous itinerary -- which began from Bengaluru and passed through places such as Bandipur, Mysuru, Halebid, Chikmagalur, Hampi, Bijapur before ending at Goa -- will continue, he said, adding that different itineraries will be added based on the response to the service.
Pushkar said the agreement with the IRCTC, which is for a period of 10 years, is on a revenue sharing basis. The KSTDC will do the major work on the train, while the interiors, operation and marketing will be done by the IRCTC.
The Golden Chariot train service was stopped in March 2018 because of high haulage charges and low occupancy rate of about 35 per cent, the KSTDC managing director said.
"The haulage charges used to be 92 per cent of the total revenue. We were paying more than the net revenue to the railways as haulage charges... Had the occupancy rate reached 50 per cent, we would have broken even," he said.
Things should improve hereafter as the haulage charges have been reduced by 50 per cent, he added.
Pushkar said he hoped that the occupancy rate on the Golden Chariot will increase due to the IRCTC's better global marketing network.
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