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Wheels of fortune set to change for Rajasthan’s luxury trains

This is part of Rajasthan’s plan to bring tourists back to its twin luxury trains primarily patronised by foreign customers.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 21, 2017, 12.45 AM IST
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Palace on Wheels has seen dwindling numbers but RROW has struggled to take off since it was launched in 2009. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
Palace on Wheels has seen dwindling numbers but RROW has struggled to take off since it was launched in 2009. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
A more luxurious Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (RROW) has replaced the famous 23-year-old Palace on Wheels (POW) this season for the same ticket price of $9,100 for a couple for a weeklong ride. From December, POW rake could run at one-third of the ticket price on a truncated four-day tour. But Varanasi, the PM’s constituency, has been dropped from the itinerary.

This is part of Rajasthan’s plan to bring tourists back to its twin luxury trains primarily patronised by foreign customers. POW has seen dwindling numbers but RROW has struggled to take off since it was launched in 2009. Besides the seven destinations in Rajasthan and Agra like the POW, RROW also took one to Varanasi and Khajuraho.

Both places have now been dropped as RROW has been renamed POW to run on the latter’s route. POW’s new name is ‘Heritage Palace on Wheels’ and it may take smaller trips of 4 days from December between Delhi, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Bikaner and Agra for $3,200 for a couple if the Centre approves it.

Wheels of fortune set to change for Rajasthan’s luxury trains

“This may become the cheapest luxury train ride available in India so far. We aim to get domestic tourists to now hop on this train,” a top Rajasthan government official said.

Rajasthan government officials told ET that ticket prices may be reduced from next season to attract more tourists after a nudge from the railways ministry. The Centre had demanded ‘haulage charges’ of Rs 62 lakh per trip plus Rs 3.13 crore as fixed charges per year for RROW till last season while it continued an earlier practice of sharing 56% of revenues of POW. The Rajasthan government has bled on RROW, which has also seen poor tourist inflow.

Last week, railway minister Piyush Goyal agreed at a meeting with Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje that the Centre will not impose haulage charges or fixed charges on any luxury train but revert to a 56:44 revenue sharing model for all. The newer RROW plying as POW seems to have done the trick already with almost 80% occupancy being reported for next week’s trip.

“RROW provides more space, is more luxurious as per international standards and the number of cabins in a saloon are only three compared to four in POW. Maximum occupancy of RROW rake is 84 passengers, while POW had capacity of 104. The ticket price is still the same, though RROW was priced at about $700 more than POW till last year,” a state official explained.
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