Two years after it was suspended in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions, Palace On Wheels (POW) is all set to roll out again. While the Rajasthan Tourism and Development Corporation (RTDC) has taken steps for the resumption of the world’s first luxury train since 1982 by the end of next month, September, the Indian Railways has put a hurdle in its way stressing on a new policy to fix ‘haulage charges’ which the corporation finds very costly.
The IR wants that every such luxury train should be run under the Bharat Gaurav Train policy of ‘haulage charges’ (fix payment) on a daily basis or on season basis, RTDC Chairman Dharmendra Rathore told SNS.
Presently he is giving final touches to the POW itinerary which generally starts from September and ends in March.
Rathore, who has recently assumed the charge of the corporation, said, “Since 1982 when POW made a breakthrough as the first luxury train in the world, the RTDC and the Railways were running it on a share eof 44:56 percent ratio, but it was shocking to note that the Railway Ministry was still adamant on onetime payment on the basis of new policy brought in the Modi regime whether the train runs and it does make profit or not. The old agreement between the RTDC and IR expired in 2021.”
Rathore and Dhiraj Srivastav (Chairman of Rajasthan Foundation) who met Railway Minister Ashwani Vaishnaw in Parliament a couple of days ago argued that the RTDC was the oldest customer of the Railways, POW is world famous undoubtedly, and the best for tourism promotion not only in Rajasthan but also for the entire nation too. Hence the POW should be run on old the agreement of profit sharing. When asked what the response of the Railway Minister was, Rathore said, “He just smiled, and did not say a word and kept repeating the same new policy importance.”
The chairmen duo submitted a memo to the Railway minister for consideration at the earliest.
Under the new policy, a rough estimate showed that RTDC would have to pay Rs 28-30 crore for a complete season to the Railways whether or not it makes any profit, he said, adding, “The state government too is trying to convince the Railway Ministry and resolve it amicably. In any case the POW must run on track for the sake of Rajasthan Tourism and revenue generation for the state and the Central exchequers”.