After three years of remaining off the rails, Karnataka&rsquos luxury train, the Golden Chariot, is all set to run again.
The train will resume services for the first time since operations were taken over by the Indian Railway Catering Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) from the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC). This will also be its first run following a complete overhaul.
As confirmed by IRCTC officials, the luxury train&rsquos inaugural run is scheduled to take place on March 14. The second run would be on March 21.
Although the official website of the Golden Chariot has lined up departures till April 2023, sources acknowledged that a great deal would depend on the response.
IRCTC mostly caters to overseas tourists but the pandemic has compelled them to target domestic travellers as international tourism is still limited.
As per IRCTC officials, the response so far has been good. They have registered more than 50% bookings for both the scheduled departures.
Due to the spread of COVID-19 in India, the interior works had to be put on hold. Sources said that these resumed in September/October 2020. Today, the makeover of Karnataka&rsquos luxury train is complete with renovated cabins, bathrooms, and new upholstery. Features such as Wi-Fi equipped smart TVs for streaming services have also been added.
Karnataka&rsquos Golden Chariot takes pride in its international standards of luxury. Keeping this in mind, tourists have been assured that COVID-19 protocols, along with hygiene and sanitation norms will be strictly adhered to.
Started in 2008, the Golden Chariot connects Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Pondicherry (depending on the selected itinerary).
In 2010, rakes were upgraded with a different suspension to ensure a smoother ride without jerks. However, operational losses of about Rs41 crore led to the government of Karnataka suspending operations temporarily. This was done to refurbish the coaches, and to confirm a new agency to run the train.