NATIONAL

CAG raps Rlys. for losses on tourist train

NEW DELHI MARCH 29. Seven years after the refurbished, fully air-conditioned luxurious `Palace on Wheels' train rolled out on broad gauge, the Railways are yet to work out a mutually acceptable earning sharing ratio with the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC). This has resulted in substantial financial loss.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) noted that apart from Rs. 4.17 crores loss due to lack of agreement on sharing ratio, the Railways suffered Rs. 3.02 crores loss due to delayed remittances of Rs. 41.71 crores and non-payment of the full cost of the tourist train by the RTDC.

"Dispute regarding sharing of earnings between the Railways and RTDC could not be resolved despite joint meetings held in July 1997 and March 2000.

As no formal agreement could be entered into, the remittances are being continued by the RTDC in the ratio of 50:50,'' the CAG said in its report of March 2001.

Though in February 1996, the earning sharing ratio of 55:45 between the Railways and the RTDC was decided upon in a meeting between the Minister of State for Railways and Minister of Tourism, Rajasthan, the Railway Board decided to share the earnings between the Railways and RTDC in the ratio of 67:33 mainly on consideration of substantial increase in operational cost without obtaining the consent of RTDC.

The CAG report rapped the Railways for failing to work out the details of operational cost which prompted the RTDC to insist on sharing of earnings in the ratio of 55:45.

In the absence of any mutually agreed ratio of sharing of earnings, the Railways' share of earnings for 1995-96 and 97 was not released by the RTDC.

In June 1997, the RTDC adopted its own earning sharing ratio of 50:50 and remitted Rs. 9.70 crores in three instalments.

The tourist train had started service in 1982 and continued till January 1995 and the earnings were shared between the Railways and the RTDC in the ratio of 72:28. The entire cost of metre gauge train was borne by the Railways.

After the conversion of metre gauge into broad gauge, the Board decided to manufacture a broad gauge tourist train and operate it.

The cost of the new train (Rs. 20.84 crores) was required to be shared equally by the Railways and the RTDC.

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