Sharath S. Srivatsa
Golden Chariot to be made affordable for Indian passengers
BANGALORE: The Golden Chariot, Karnataka’s luxury train, will soon have a different tariff for Indians wishing to travel on it. The price is likely to come down to about Rs. 63,000 for a seven-night trip from the current Rs. 1.2 lakh.
The proposal is expected to be placed by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC), which runs the train, before the KSTDC board next week.
“We are placing the reworked rate of about Rs. 9,000 a night for approval and hope to see more Indians travelling on the train in future,” KSTDC Managing Director Vinay Luthra told The Hindu.
At present, the tariff for a night on this opulent train is $350, which is about Rs. 17,000, calculated at the rate of Rs. 49 to a dollar.
Sources said that the tariff also depended on the season, with September to March being the peak season with a large number of foreign tourist arrivals.
“Ideally, if a person undertakes a journey for three nights, it could cost about Rs. 27,000, which many Indian travellers can afford now,” Mr. Luthra said. Besides, as the Rs. 32 crore-train was built with taxpayers’ money, the corporation thought Indian travellers should be charged less.
Twenty per cent of the total number of passengers who have travelled on the train since it began operations nearly a year and a half ago are Indians, many of whom used the off-season period.
Sources in the travel industry commented that the proposed differential tariff could be to attract Indian travellers considering the arrival of foreign tourists to the country had come down.
For those who cannot make an outright payment for the ticket to travel on the luxury train, the corporation has tied up with HDFC Bank for an interest-free loan repayable in six to eight instalments. The measure was initiated as the tariff for a seven-night journey is Rs. 1.2 lakh at present.
Though the response to the scheme has not been encouraging, the corporation is using it as a marketing tool, Mr. Luthra said. “We are in talks with other banks, including ICICI Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, for similar tie-ups,” he added.