The Tourism department is vigorously pursuing with the Railways the process to change the fixed haulage model to the revenue-sharing model to revive the Golden Chariot train, on the lines of Palace on Wheels.
The moves comes after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal directed his ministry and the state governments to launch more luxury expresses in India and cut down haulage charges. In October, the Railways and the Rajasthan government signed a pact for the 56:44 revenue-sharing model.
On December 11, 2017, the Railways agreed to the Karnataka government's proposal to implement the same (Rajasthan) model for Golden Chariot. But the file is moving at a snail's pace.
It is learnt that Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani had cleared the file, but due to internal tussles in the department, the file is in cold storage since January 10.
"We had requested for a 50:50 model as decided in 2008, but this new scheme of sharing 56% of the earnings with Railways is also acceptable. It is better than paying fixed haulage charges," said a Tourism department official.
The Golden Chariot was launched in 2008. Then, the Railways had agreed to follow the revenue-sharing model, but just before launch of the train, the Railways backed out and opted for the fixed haulage charges model.
Occupancy in Golden Chariot has not been more than 33% in the last 10 years. To financially break even, it should be at least 65%. To reduce losses, the number of trips was brought down to 10, from the initial 25-30 every year. The Golden Chariot had curated two package tours, both being seven nights and eight days long. Incidentally, due to heavy losses, the Southern Splendour- covering Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala - was discontinued.
Over the last nine years, the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) incurred losses to the tune of Rs 39 crore due to haulage charges. Almost 112% of the net revenue from the sale of tickets is paid to the Railways, apart from payment to hospitality partners.
KSTDC managing director Kumar Pushkar said talks were on with the Railways. Lohani had agreed to the state's request for a revenue-sharing model, on the lines of Rajasthan, he said.
"I believe the Railway Board is working on our proposal and we are expecting an order for revenue sharing, shortly," he said. Despite repeated attempts, Lohani was not available for comment.