The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is planning to renovate Golden Chariot, a luxury train of Karnataka, in a bid to turn it into a profit-making venture. The luxury train, which is a joint venture of Railways and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC), will start plying from March next year.
Due to low occupancy, the Golden Chariot has suffered heavy losses. The fare of the train has now been reduced by 50 per cent. IRCTC has the experience of running luxury and tourist trains and at present runs the luxury train, Maharaja Express.
The announcement was made after the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corp (KSTDC) signed a memorandum of understanding with IRCTC to market and operate the Golden Chariot train.
Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi said the train will boost tourism in Karnataka and other southern states. He also urged the IRCTC and KSTDC to keep the fares of the Golden Chariot train competitive so that everyone can afford to travel.
Angadi said the Golden Chariot aims to fulfill the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to connect 15 tourism destinations in the country. The Golden Chariot is South India’s only luxury train. Its services were suspended by the Karnataka government temporarily on account of huge losses.
The Golden Chariot, which started plying in 2008, began as a joint initiative of the Karnataka government and the Indian Railways. It is an 18-coach train with 44 guest rooms. At least, 84 passengers can enjoy the train ride at one time.
Once the services begin from March next year, the Golden Chariot will cover tourist destinations in Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry and other south Indian states. It also proposes to include Bandipur, Mysuru, Halebid, Chikmagalur, Hampi, Bijapur and Goa in its itinerary.