Haulage Charges Drain Luxury Train Profits
It took the Rajasthan tourism department 13 years to ride into the black
with their 'Palace on Wheels'. Will the 'Golden Chariot', operated by
Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) in the state's
backyards, be able to break even before that?
Figures show the Golden Chariot has been unable to reap golden benefits for
KSTDC, with the luxury train stopping way short of the Rs 60-lakh mark per
trip, which it requires to break even.
Commissioned in 2008, Golden Chariot's 18 coaches fitted with modern
facilities, has seen a gradual dip in revenue collection over its three
years of operations.
In its first year, it had raked in handsome returns with 31 trips. The
subsequent years saw the trip count nosedive to 26 in 2009-10 and 19 in
A big deterrent in making profits has been haulage charges the body needs to
pay Indian Railways, said KSTDC sources. While the charge was Rs 23 lakh per
trip in 2008, a rebate was announced after three months and the amount came
down to Rs 18 lakh. After one year, charges were revised to Rs 35 lakh per
KSTDC's outstanding arrears to Indian Railways stand at Rs 6.52 crore
(including manufacturing cost). KSTDC is believed to have approached the
state tourism department to bail it out and the department agreed to a
bailout sum of Rs 3 crore. With foreign tourists comprising the bulk of
travellers, the luxury train only boasts of 40% occupancy per trip, bringing
in not more than Rs 40 lakh. "Add to that some domestic tourists who get
down after four days. Not always do we have passengers to fill in those
seats which contributes to the revenue loss," said an official working with
the luxury chariot.
"We have not been able to attract people. Marketing needs to be more
intense," said Sundar Naik, managing director, KSTDC. For this reason alone,
senior KSTDC officials are travelling to the International Luxury Travel
Mart being held in France next month.
"Bookings for the Golden Chariot are on for the current season (October to
March) and we are hopeful of finishing with profits," said Naik. The Chariot
sets out on its fourth voyage in a fortnight's time.
That Karnataka's tourist showpiece, the Golden Chariot, is running under
loss is not surprising. There is little hardsell of this exclusive train
which covers some must-see destinations across the state. KSTDC should
market it at forums both within India and abroad. The haulage charge is also
steep. The Railways should make concessions in the interest of tourism, or
KSTDC will be stuck with a white elephant.
Golden Chariot runs two packages:
Pride of South and Southern Splendour
Pride of South
Seven nights, eight days. Begins at Bangalore, covers Kabini, Srirangapatna,
Mysore, Shravanabelagola, Belur, Halebid, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Goa
TARIFF Rs 1.05 lakh for Indians on twin-sharing basis $3465 for foreigners
on twin-sharing basis
Seven nights, eight days. Covers three states. Starts at Bangalore, goes to
Chennai, Puducherry, Kerala
Rs 1.68 lakh for Indians on twin-sharing basis
$3990 for foreigners on twin-sharing basis
80:20 is foreigner-Indian ratio of travellers