Luxury trains get a boost from rupee free fall

The rupee’s freefall might have brought the economy to a grinding halt but India’s luxury trains are speeding along thanks to a sudden windfall of dollars from foreign tourists happy to splurge on board.

There is a spurt in bookings by foreigners.

The three big names in luxury on wheels – Palace on Wheels, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels and Maharaja Express – are getting more bookings and requests than usual, claim those in the trade.

And that means business for Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) and some money-saving deals for foreigners on board these trains.

Royalty on wheels

“Foreigners, especially from the US and Europe, have suddenly started sending requests and there is a jump of at least 30 per cent in the usual booking trend up to last year. We’re totally booked on Palace on Wheels in December last week and even in the slow season of January and February we’re 60-65 per cent sold out. The occupancy will only increase as these are advance bookings,” claimed an RTDC official, adding, “We’re getting a lot of last-minute requests, which is unusual, perhaps due to the fluctuating Indian currency in the global market.”

The Palace on Wheels, which usually starts in September in a low-key manner, has also got 42 bookings, almost 40 per cent occupancy assured.

“In October we’re 60-65 per cent sold out and for November it has increased to almost 80-90 per cent on different dates.

The year-end is completely booked. Had the adverse publicity generated by rape and security in India not been factors, we would have been getting more business,” the official said.

The falling rupee seems to have stirred greater interest in our luxury trains, claim RTDC senior officials. “It’s not that they have got any change in their tariff, but the falling rupee is giving travellers more leverage in spending on board in restaurants, bars, spas, and then in shopping in Indian markets while they are travelling on the road during the week-long journey,” said a manager-rank official of the Palace on Wheels.

He added: “There is a difference of almost Rs 16-18 per dollar, which they are saving in a way”. For RTDC, too, this brings in extra bucks as they are paying Indian Railways the old rate on overhauling charges.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2401582/Indias-luxury-trains-boost-rupee-freefall-tourists-opportunity-splurge.html#ixzz2cwYcSPr3

Grinding halt for ‘royal’ train soon?

After changing its colour thrice since its launch, the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (RROW), a super luxury tourist train that can barely break even during its run, now looks at getting its haulage model changed. The fixed haulage charges, now applicable to luxury trains, are highly exorbitant.

Following a letter by chief minister Ashok Ghelot to railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, chief secretary C K Mathew and officials from the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) are slated to meet member traffic, Railway Board at New Delhi, in this regard.

‘Royal Rajasthan on Wheels’ – touted as India’s most luxurious train – is a joint venture between RTDC and Indian Railways. At the moment, the Rajasthan government owes Rs 30 crore haulage charges to the ministry and with RTDC running in losses, it seemed adifficult thing to run the train on the current model.

In 2010, the railway board had increased haulage charges from Rs 1,000 per kilometre to Rs 2,000. If the RTDC had paid Rs 30 lakh per trip as haulage charges, it has to pay nearly Rs 60 lakh per trip now. While the railway board had offered a discount of 40% since 2011, the objective of the meeting would be to negotiate with the board to consider extending the discount by two more years i.e. till 2009 when the RROW was flagged off. The RROW which is parked for the season is said to have run on 50% capacity last season and generated Rs one crore which barely covered running expenses and commissions to general sales agents (GSAs). For the next season, only 25 per cent tickets are booked.

“The haulage charges are exorbitant and we plan to propose to the railways to run the train on revenue sharing basis as the Palace on Wheels (POW). While railways get 56% of the revenue, Rajasthan’s share is 44% is far more logical,” said Vinod Ajmera, managing director of RTDC. Besides there would also be discussion on POW coaches overhauling, he said. The average life of the train coaches is 18 years but POW has already done 18 years, well past its life.

Unlike POW which has been running on fixed itinerary for years, RROW has since its inception been a “victim of officials and politicians’ whims and fancies”. A stark example is when the train was running in losses, it changed its colour thrice. “Initially, it was painted golden to reflect the colour of the sand. This was when BJP was in power. In late 2008, Congress came to power and with it the train’s colour was changed to dark yellow. And then, the train’s colour was changed to blue. Initially, the RTDC was reluctant to change the colour since it had already bought yellow paint. But the train finally had to be painted blue at a cost of over Rs 4 lakh to the RTDC at a time when the train was incurring a loss of Rs 5 crore every season,” a source said.

Moreover, while POW for years maintains the same well-researched itinerary, RROW is now contemplating changing the itinerary, which will also be one of the issues listed on the agenda of the meeting.

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Search&Source=Find&Key=TOIJ/2013/04/27/3/Ar00302%2Exml&CollName=TOI_JAIPUR_DAILY_2009&DOCID=413352&Keyword=%28%3Cmany%3E%3Cstem%3Erailways%29&skin=TOINEW&AppName=1&PageLabel=3%20&ViewMode=HTML

Royal Rajasthan on Wheels’ – India’s most luxurious train

Royal Rajasthan on Wheels’ – touted as India’s most luxurious train – is a joint venture between Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (RTDC) and the Indian Railways.

The train will run every Sunday between October and April from Delhi. It will travel across three states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Consisting of 35 coaches, the train has a ferrying capacity of 82 passengers in one trip. The train has on board a spa, gymnasium, specials suites, deluxe saloons and two restro-lounges which make the journey truly a ‘royal experience’

When this train started operating, the journey costs were $4,130 (Rs.2,14,760), one had to shell out $1,600 (Rs.83,200) per day more if one travels in the special suite.

The train will go to Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Khajuraho and Agra. And the journey will culminate in Varanasi,” RTDC chairman Pramod Sharma said. The entire journey would be completed in seven days.

“This train is better than ‘Palace on Wheels’ as it is more spacious and grander. It has every luxury which anyone would want,” said Sharma.

So far, the service has been really good and the crew is really hospitable. It would be too early to say anything about the train as the journey has not even started yet,” an Australian tourist Kent Vodan told IANS while the train was at Safdarjung station.As the train started its maiden trip in 2009, there were 61 foreign tourists on board.
http://in.finance.yahoo.com/photos/luxury-on-wheels-by-the-indian-railways-slideshow/#crsl=%252Fphotos%252Fluxury-on-wheels-by-the-indian-railways-slideshow%252Froyal-rajasthan-on-wheels-photo-1349680816.html

New luxury train launched by Indian Railways

A new luxury train, which will cover tourist destinations in three states, started its maiden journey from Safdarjung railway station in the capital Sunday.

‘Royal Rajasthan on Wheels’ – touted as India’s most luxurious train – is a joint venture between Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (RTDC) and the Indian Railways.

The train will run every Sunday between October and April from Delhi. It will travel across three states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

“The train will go to Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Khajuraho and Agra. And the journey will culminate in Varanasi,” RTDC chairman Pramod Sharma said. The entire journey would be completed in seven days.

Consisting of 35 coaches, the train has a ferrying capacity of 82 passengers in one trip. The train has on board a spa, gymnasium, specials suites, deluxe saloons and two restro-lounges which make the journey truly a ‘royal experience’.

“This train is better than ‘Palace on Wheels’ as it is more spacious and grander. It has every luxury which anyone would want,” said Sharma.

While the journey will cost $4,130 (Rs.2,14,760), one will have to shell out $1,600 (Rs.83,200) per day more if one travels in the special suite.

On Sunday, as the train started its maiden trip, there were 61 foreign tourists on board.

“So far, the service has been really good and the crew is really hospitable. It would be too early to say anything about the train as the journey has not even started yet,” an Australian tourist Kent Vodan told IANS while the train was at Safdarjung station.

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-10-07/news/34306347_1_new-luxury-train-deluxe-saloons-and-two-maiden-journey

Travel by Maharajah Express to tour UP by train

Finally, there’s something on the tourism front for the city that Lucknowites can celebrate. For a city crammed with historical spaces, not to mention a unique culture, the complaint often has been that it hardly falls within the tourist map, with foreigners just passing through Lucknow on their way to better advertised places like Varanasi or even the Buddhist circuit. But hopefully, all that should change with this latest initiative of the Royal India Railway Tours, a partnership between IRCTC and a private tour operator, which is bringing a luxury train into the city as a part of its travel itinerary that includes Agra, Varanasi, Gwalior, Bandhavgarh and Khajuraho.

On the lines of super luxury trains like Royal Rajasthan on wheels, Royal Orient and the Deccan Odyssey, The Maharaja express too promises to give its guests a taste of UP, with a luxurious touch. As Nalin Singhal, director, tourism and marketing, IRCTC explains, “We have already brought in several tourists for on this train and so far the response has been enthusiastic. Our endeavour is to provide an experience which is away from the traditional tour one undertakes of India. Depending on the future response we may also consider increasing the number of destinations.” Interestingly, while there are other luxury trains that include Agra and Varanasi in their itinerary, this is for the first time that such a train has come to Lucknow. Also, the project sees active membership by Muzaffar Ali, who has for long championed for greater efforts regarding tourism in Lucknow. Says Singhal, “The kind of clientele we are catering to – premier foreign tourists – can be great ambassadors for tourism and naturally help encourage others to consider destinations like Lucknow.”

Awasthi, director, UP Tourism firmly agrees with, when he says, “Such an initiative can be really advantageous for Lucknow especially since Lucknow traditionally has never been a tourist destination. It will help create an opening for the city among tourists who generally stop by on their way to the Buddhist circuit. We are willing to provide every help and support they require.”

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Royal Rajasthan train to run again

New Delhi, Sep 4 (PTI) Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, the new super luxury train, will start its journey tomorrow with several new destinations like Khajuraho and Varanasi in its itinerary.
The luxury train is a joint venture of Rajasthan Tourism and Development Corporation and Indian Railways.

Encouraged with the grand success of Palace on Wheels, the tourist train was introduced in January 2009.
While the Palace on Wheels starts its journey on every Wednesday between August to April, the Royal Rajasthan is scheduled to run on every Sunday between September and April.

For the first time the train will include popular destinations like Khajuraho and Varanasi in its itinerary.
The new train promises to offer more facilities to its passengers.

The refurbished train has 22 coaches comprising of one super deluxe coach, 13 deluxe coaches, two restaurants and bars and a spa coach, having a capacity of 82 passengers. PTI

http://news.in.msn.com/national/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4345249

Another luxury train to link Buddhist circuit

Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation in collaboration with Indian Railways is starting another luxurious train in September called “Royal Rajasthan on Wheels” connecting Varanasi-Rajasthan-Khajuraho with other tourist destinations of the country.

“Royal Rajasthan on Wheels is an upgraded version of Palace on Wheels luxury train,” said VK Sharma general manager of Royal Rajasthan on Wheels luxurious train while talking to Hindustan Times during his visit to Varanasi Monday evening.

Sharma further said that it will be a seven-day tour starting on September 5. The train will be flagged off from New Delhi and will travel to Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittaur, Sarai Madhopur, Jaipur, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Agra and return to New Delhi.

He said the luxurious train comprises of 14 sleeping saloons, 41 cabins, two restaurant cum bar, one kitchen and one spa beside other luxurious facilities.

“The cost of boarding on this luxurious train would be 590 dollars per day for each person and accommodation facility of 82 tourists has been made in the train,” he said.

He said in Varanasi, the tourists will be taken on visit to Ganga ghats, Banaras Hindu University, Bharat Mata Temple and Sarnath.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Another-luxury-train-to-link-Buddhist-circuit/Article1-542617.aspx

Dish TV ties up with Railways for live TV

New Delhi, Apr 21 (PTI) For those bored during long train journeys, DTH major Dish TV today unveiled its new offering that will enable passengers to watch live television while on board.

Dish TV has partnered with the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corp (RTDC) to set up television screens on two iconic luxury trains, the Palace on Wheels and Royal Rajasthan on Wheels.

“Airlines have their in-flight entertainment systems, but the content is pre-recorded. The passengers on board these trains will now have access to live television, be it sports, news or soap operas,” Dish TV Chief Operating Officer Salil Kapoor told reporters here.

“We are in discussions with the Railways and RTDC for extending the offering to every seat, for easy viewing by each passenger. This could also be extended to other trains like Shatabdi and Rajdhanis,” he added.

http://www.ptinews.com/news/619619_Dish-TV-ties-up-with-Railways-for-live-TV

“Royal Rajasthan on Wheels” flagged off

JAIPUR: The “Royal Rajasthan on Wheels” train was flagged off from Safdarjung railway station in Delhi on Sunday for its first commercial trip this year with several new facilities for the passengers, such as satellite television, cultural programmes and Wi-Fi Internet connectivity, introduced on board.

According to an official release here, the luxury train has been booked to 40 per cent of its capacity and will run every week regularly till March 28 next year. The tourists aboard the train will be taken to more sites during the trip to the desert State and will get value for their money.

The release quoted the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation Chairman and Managing Director Manjeet Singh as saying that passengers would remain connected with the rest of the world while on the move through Internet and would get the spa facility within the next four months. With a change planned in the luxury train’s route from the next tourist season, passengers will be taken to Varanasi and Khajuraho as well, besides covering the “golden triangle” of Delhi-Jaipur-Agra. Mr. Singh said the new arrangement would ensure that tourists can see more sites that were not possible earlier.

The new route of the train will be Delhi-Jodhpur-Udaipur-Chittaurgarh-Sawai Madhopur-Jaipur-Khajuraho-Varanasi-Agra and back to Delhi. Mr. Singh said the food would be served to the passengers at five star hotels at all these places as far as possible. Mr. Singh said the booking of passengers was likely to touch the figure of 1,500 during the current season, making up 60 per cent of the train’s capacity. The RTDC has also reduced the passenger fares for the train, which has the capacity to carry 82 persons in a trip.

Mr. Singh said the tourists would be taken deep inside the forest areas at places such as Sawai Madhopur and Bharatpur and given a royal treatment. A special light and sound show will also be organised at Taj Mahal in Agra during their visit.

http://www.hindu.com/2009/10/19/stories/2009101954470500.htm

Luxury train attracts travel industry

JAIPUR: The travel industry has evinced a keen interest in Rajasthan’s brand new luxury train, the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels. Tour operators and travel agents thronged the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation stall at the Great Indian Travel Bazaar, a three-day show which concluded here on Tuesday.

Rajasthan Tourism, knowing well the potential of the Great Indian Travel Bazaar, the country’s largest buyer-seller mart in the tourism sector, had made special arrangements to bring the train to Jaipur from Phulera where it was stationed for the off season.

Rajasthan Tourism made arrangements to take the participants out for a visit to the train. The visitors were visibly impressed by the ambience, comfort and services provided aboard the train, which is in the category of the now hugely successful Palace on Wheels.

Royal Rajasthan On Wheels General Manager B.K. Sharma said, “I am amazed at the number of queries that have come for the train. As many as ten travel agents approached us with the intention of becoming the General Selling Agent in their respective countries.”

Bateel Travel General Manager Raza Khan described the train as an amazing tourism product which he would like to popularise in West Asia. The tour operators who visited the train included Trevor Lake, Imam Hossain, Michel Anitas, Danila Weigel, Vikas Nabar, Koolwal Kohli and Gerhard Dress.

The Rajasthan Department of Tourism, one of the organisers along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Union Tourism Ministry, and World Travel and Tourism Council tried to promote lesser known destinations in the State at the mart, apart from the popular ones. The B2B session for Rajasthan Tourism ended on a very optimistic note in terms of new business to be generated from across the country as well as abroad.

As many as 178 foreign buyers representing 159 companies from over 42 countries interacted with 168 registered Indian enterprises in tourism from across the country. The governments of Rajasthan, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh showcased their tourism products at the mart along with the Union Ministry of Tourism.

“The response to the travel bazaar has been tremendous,” said Usha Sharma, Commissioner Tourism, Rajasthan. “In two years’ time the travel bazaar has become an important forum for buyers and sellers of tourism products,” she pointed out.

http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/23/stories/2009042357480800.htm