With tourist bookings hitting rock bottom, one of Incredible India’s flagship luxury locomotives, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, has had to cancel two consecutive trips.
The December 6 and 13 trips of the luxury train have been cancelled owing to no bookings, despite it being the peak tourist season.
But if its any consolation, the luxury train market is seeing a bit of a lull at the moment and the numbers are less than encouraging for all five trains this tourist season.
“The reason we had to cancel two consecutive trips is no bookings. The market is a little dull right now. Other luxury trains are also low on bookings,” Sanjeev Sharma, General Manager, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, told The Indian Express.
However, the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corpora-tion union differs from the “dull market” logic.
“Its not about the market of low tourist arrivals. The RTDC is not interested in running these trains. They are looking for a way out, by citing falling numbers, just like they are opening up prime RTDC properties to private companies saying they are not profitable anymore,” said Tej Singh Rathore, president, RTDC Employees Union.
There are five luxury trains operating in India at the moment-the Palace on Wheels, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, The Deccan Odyssey, The Golden Chariot and the Maharajas’ Express.
“Any luxury train must have at least 25 passengers to run a profitable trip. The operating cost of these trains is so high that the bottomline has to be profit,” said Ravi, senior sales manager at The Royal Trains travel agency.
Palace on Wheels-the first and oldest of the elite group of locomotives-continues to be the most popular among tourists.
“That is because its the oldest and most well known worldwide, especially among British tourists who really love locomotives,” says Ravi.
It is followed by the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, the Maharajas’ Express-the latest offering from Indian Railways-the Golden Chariot and the Deccan Odyssey.