The loss-making Golden Chariot, a luxury tourist train service in Karnataka, has a silver lining at last.
The Southern Zonal Council comprising Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry has decided to endorse the concept to promote tourism in South India, on the lines of the Golden Triangle circuit in North India.
The Council meeting held here on Friday arrived at a consensus to introduce ‘Peninsular Tourism Trains’ in the southern zone, and instead of introducing another train it was decided to promote The Golden Chariot (TGC), which is already on the tracks. The train has been making losses since its introduction four years ago.
TGC Project Director M Srinivas said the proposal would help boost the revenue of the project. The TGC at present operates on two circuits - Pride of South (Bangalore-Mysore-Kabini-Belur-Halebid-Hampi-Goa) and Southern Splendor (Bangalore-Chennai-Puducherry-Tanjore-Madurai-Nagarcoil-Thiruvanathapuram-Alappuzha-Kochi). He said the TGC was already plying through Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa and extending the circuit to cover Andhra Pradesh would not be a problem.
A proposal would be submitted to the Railways for changing the route once the Andhra Pradesh government finalises tourist destinations in the State, he added. For the moment, the plan is to extend the Pride of South circuit to Bijapur and Bidar to enter Hyderabad.
Srinivas said the Golden Triangle circuit connecting New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan has improved tourism prospects in North India to a great extent inspiring the southern states to replicate the model.
The South Zone council is also said to have okayed the proposal to extend the high speed rail corridor between Thiruvanathapuram and Mangalore to Udupi.
The project, being implemented by the Kerala government, covers a distance of 526 km between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod. Udupi being an important town close to Mangalore, it was felt that the corridor should be extended by 42 km.
The rail link between Mangalore and Udupi will be taken up by Karnataka and the project cost is estimated to be Rs 300 crore, sources said.