BENGALURU: The Golden Chariot, Karnataka’s own luxury express, is likely to restart from March next year. This announcement came after the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) and the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) signed a memorandum of understanding for a duration of 10 years to run, operate and market the Golden Chariot.
KSTDC Managing Director Kumar Pushkar told TNIE that the train would start operations, three months after signing the MoU. “So we are hoping that it will start from February end or March first week. While the schedule is yet to be chalked out, to begin with, the Pride of South (Karnataka - Goa tour covering Mysuru, Belur, Halebidu, Hampi, Aihole and Pattadakal) will run,” he said.
The MoU was signed in Delhi by tourism minister C T Ravi and Railway Board chairman Vinod Kumar. Ravi asked the IRCTC to ensure that the train makes no losses and the rates are not escalated. He requested them to keep the rates competitive so that maximum number of people can travel on board the Golden Chariot, which will help increase occupancy. He also directed IRCTC and KSTDC to resolve issues, if any.
The tickets will be available on the Golden Chariot website and a link of the webpage will also be visible at the IRCTC and KSTDC websites. Since the operations and sales will be managed by IRCTC, KSTDC will get a revenue percentage share depending upon the occupancy. This will ensure that there are no losses to KSTDC.
According to the MoU, KSTDC will get 1% revenue if the occupancy is up to 25%, 2% revenue when the occupancy is 25-20%, 4% revenue if the occupancy ranges from 30- 35%, 6% revenue when the occupancy is 35-40% and 8% when the revenue increases above 40%. The train is an 80-seater, and to break even, the occupancy has to be at least 35%.
The Golden Chariot, which completed a decade’s run across Karnataka and other Southern States, was not operated in the last season (October to March) as it was being refurbished. KSTDC had started operations of the train in 2008. It had then signed an MoU with Indian Railways to pay a fixed haulage charges. It was only recently that this MoU was changed to revenue-sharing model of 40:60 ratio. Now the haulage charges will be paid by IRCTC to the Railway Board.
The ownership and custody of the train will remain with KSTDC while IRCTC has been made the operations partner for the next 10 years, said Pushkar.
The IRCTC has said that it will not change the interiors and the catering; non-vegetarian food and liquor will continue to be served. It will also not change the brand colour code of the train- Purple and Gold. It has, however, made a request to make modification in the interior decor of the train. The MoU has been signed after seeing the experience of IRCTC in running Maharajas’ Express which shows India’s cultural diversity.