JAIPUR: Rail tourism, one of the luxury niche segments in tourism in the country, is on a gradual decline despite all the focus on tourism by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India runs five luxury trains. While two are owned by the Rajasthan government, the remaining three also get tours to the state. But all the trains are running with just 30% occupancy,making it an unviable proposition.
"India has one of the largest rail infrastructures in the world. Yet, we are not using it to its full potential for the purpose of tourism. The existing tourist trains are running with only 30% occupancy. Inspite of having the capacity to run more than 10 tourist trains, we are not running even a single train to its full capacity," said Manish Saini, director of Worldwide Rail Journeys Pvt Ltd.
Ironically , even in the peak Christmas-New Year weekend Maharaja Express allegedly had only seven guests on board. While only Palace on Wheels (POW) was sold out for one tour, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (RROW) was running on 45% occupancy.
At the time of filing this story, RROW, with a capacity of 82 passengers, was running the tour with just 22 guests on board.
"Earlier, our trains were running on a tariff-sharing basis, wherein 56% was for railways and 44% was for Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC). But this season it was changed and haulage charges are killing tourism. The capacity of tourist trains is so low that the per capita haulage charge becomes very high. POW has to pay 65 lakh per tour and RROW 60 lakh now with a 10% increase every year,"said an official from POW .
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