Golden Chariot to not operate this season

KSTDC may run a few promotional trips of Golden Chariot train before commencing its operational season next year.   | Photo Credit: File Photo

In its tenth year, south India’s only luxury train, the Golden Chariot, will not run during its operational season owing to maintenance and refurbishment work, as well as in anticipation of a new agency taking over soon.

The Golden Chariot is operated from October to March. The train runs two tours: Pride of South (Bengaluru, Kabini, Mysuru, Hassan, Hampi, Badami, and Goa), and Southern Splendour (Bengaluru, Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Puducherry, Thanjavur, Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram, Kovalam, and Kochi).

Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) managing director Kumar Pushkar told The Hindu that the process of selecting a new company was in its final stages, owing to which the train would not be operated this season.

After bringing on board a new agency, they will be in charge of marketing, hospitality, and sales, unlike before when the company was only in charge of hospitality. “The tenders took some time. We want a good number of people to travel in the train. As a government agency, we (the KSTDC) do not have that kind of reach. We want an agency with a good network across the world,” Mr. Pushkar said.

The aim is to not only make profits, but also promote tourism in Karnataka and south India, he added.

An upgrade

The train, with its distinct purple outer body, is being refurbished. Air suspension, which will make the train ride smoother, bio-toilets, and CCTV cameras are among the new additions. The outer branding of the train will also see a rejig, but will remain similar to the existing one. “We have taken up major maintenance and refurbishment work as it has been 10 years.We do not want to start trips before it is over,” the managing director said.

A non-operational season would not lead to major losses, Mr. Pushkar clarified, as the KSTDC was not paying haulage charges to the Railways.

Earlier this year, the Railway Board agreed to a revenue-sharing ratio of 56:44 between the Indian Railways and the KSTDC for 2017–18, bringing major relief to the Karnataka government as the high haulage charges, coupled with poor occupancy rates of around 35%, had left the train’s finances in a poor state.

The KSTDC may run a few promotional trips before commencing its operational season next year, officials said.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 1:04:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/golden-chariot-to-not-operate-this-season/article25705783.ece

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