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March 30, 2011

Haulage Charges, A Red Signal For Rail Tourism


30 March 2011

New Delhi:
To launch deluxe products, priced at Rs 5,000-10,000 a day, tour operators want the Railway Ministry to reduce the haulage charges by at least a third.

Indian Railways levies haulage charges on tour operators for the Railway network infrastructure including tracks, signalling systems, stations.

At present, the top-end luxury trains in operation such as Palace on Wheels are priced between $500 (Rs 22,500) and $2500 (Rs 1,12,500) a day.

“The haulage charge of the Railway Ministry for luxury trains is about three times that of Rajdhani Express trains. We want parity with the haulage charge of air-conditioned trains like Rajdhanis,” Mr Sajivve Trehaan, CEO,

The Luxury Trains, said. The company is a general sales agent for premium tourist trains like Deccan Odyssey. The Luxury Trains has also chartered Royal Palace on Wheels and the Deccan Odyssey for three years.

The Railway subsidiary, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), meanwhile, is developing a plan to launch deluxe tourist trains which can accommodate more passengers than the existing luxury trains and will offer a range of packages in the $200-300 (Rs 9,000-13,500) a day category.

“IRCTC is trying to plan such a product,” Mr RK Tandon, Managing Director, IRCTC, said adding that there is a large market for the rail tourists in the $200-300 a day range. Mr Nalin Singhal, Director, IRCTC, said that IRCTC is working out meeting and greeting areas for domestic tourists in the stations.

The Tourism Ministry wants the Railways to come out with offerings for the mass tourist market. “In the Railway Budget 2011-12, 20 stations have been identified for upgradation of station facilities to be funded jointly by Railway Ministry and Tourism Ministry,” Mr Sanjay Kothari, Additional Secretary, Tourism Ministry stated in an event organised by the CII here today.

A committee with members from the Railway Ministry, IRCTC, Tourism Ministry and industry, will be formed to provide better facilities on stations to domestic tourists and add more destinations to the rail tourism map. IRCTC has already started Bharat Tirth trains, with and without air-conditioning. It also offers Bharat Darshan trains where passengers pay Rs 500 a day which includes rail and road travel, meals, and accommodation.