Kochi: It will take much more time before luxury tourist trains could chug through the state as the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) dumped its plan to operate the premier Maharajas Express in the Mumbai-Thiruvananthapuram section every year.
This after it was forced to cancel both the two circuits of the premier luxury train ‘Maharajas Express’ planned in June and September respectively on the very first occasion itself.
In May last, the IRCTC announced the new circuits ‘Southern Sojourn’ and ‘Southern Jewels’ covering destinations such as Goa, Hampi, Mysore, Ernakulam, Kumarakom and Trivandrum.
For the first time, the train circuits were planned for domestic tourists with the IRCTC announcing the ‘Break Journey’ scheme -- passengers are allowed to avail part of the total journey on a fixed price per person on twin sharing basis.
However, as it turned out, the inward journey (Southern Sojourn – Monsoon Special) from Mumbai on June 24 was cancelled after failing to get any bookings, which ultimately forced the organisers to drop the circuit altogether.
“We then had a total of 22 bookings from the state for the return trip from Thiruvananthapuram to Mumbai (Southern
Jewels –Monsoon Special) on July 1, including two bookings for the full tour with a duration of eight days and seven nights,” a senior IRCTC official said.
“When it was cancelled, half of them were willing to travel in the circuit scheduled in September. We’d be booking for nearly 50 percent of the total capacity of 88 guests for the return journey on September 16, with most of them opting for the ‘Break Journey’ scheme,” he added.
However, there was no booking for the inward journey from Mumbai (September 9) again, forcing the organisers to drop the entire circuit.
“Now the IRCTC dropped the plan to operate the train to the southern states as of now though the same will be again considered in future if there is sufficient demand. We cannot afford to get the train operate empty one way as the operation cost alone amounts to Rs 4.5 to 5 crore,” he said.
It would cost Rs 5.68 lakh per person for the full tour in the 23-coach long Maharajas’ Express.