After a two-year break, the Golden Chariot, which completed a decade’s run in 2018, will be back on track from March. The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) officials said the train’s first run will be on March 22.
The marketing and operations of the luxury train was handed over to the IRCTC in November 2019 after the KSTDC signed an agreement with it. Before that, south India’s only luxury train was not operated during its usual October to March season as the KSTDC was looking for a new agency to take over certain aspects of operations. Last year, the new BJP government which came to power took note of the ₹41 crore losses the train had incurred and decided to temporarily suspend operations.
Through its 10-year run, the Golden Chariot was plagued by low occupancy rates, which was only around 35% on an average. The tourism corporation had also repeatedly raised the issue of high haulage charges by the Indian Railways, that had refused to come on board for a revenue sharing model, causing a huge burden to the Golden Chariot’s finances. The Railways ultimately agreed to a revenue-sharing ratio of 56:44.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mahendra Pratap Mall, CMD, IRCTC, said the train would run three tours – two existing routes, and a third one – a short trip of three nights.
The train’s two tours were: Pride of South, which traversed through Bengaluru, Kabini, Mysuru, Hassan, Hampi, Badami and Goa, and Southern Splendour, through Bengaluru, Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Puducherry, Thanjavur, Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram, Kovalam, and Kochi.
Kumar Pushkar, MD, KSTDC, added that the March-April operation will run three trips of one tour – Pride of Karnataka (earlier Pride of South).