Rajasthan: Palace on Wheels to remain off the tracks at least till December | Jaipur News

JAIPUR: Every year, this time around, luxury train Palace on Wheels (POW) starts to go through a process of renewal and refurbishment for the first ride of the season that starts in September. But not this year.
Officials at RTDC (Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation), which, in partnership with Indian Railways operates the train, are yet to formally cancel the journeys, but the consensus is already there for it till December. “We have not decided as yet. We are keen to start, but there travel advisories for non-essential travel. Resumption of scheduled commercial flights is a big factor given the fact that the majority of travellers in the train are from foreign countries. Also, it all depends on which direction Covid-19 moves,” said a senior official at RTDC.
The luxury train is a big draw among foreigners and NRIs who fill up over 90% of its 84-berth capacity. The 8-day journey takes them through the royal heritage of Rajasthan, its deserts, wildlife, bird sanctuary and also the historic Taj Mahal.
Of the two major commercial operations of RTDC, Palace On Wheels is a profit making venture, while the hotel business continues to lose money because of changing market dynamics and legacy issues. During the last season, POW had to terminate trips in March and April due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of refunds for the cancelled trips, bookings were made for the current season. “We are not sure when the foreign travel agencies are reopening for business. In India too, General Service Agents managing the booking have not opened. There is a complete lack of clarity now. In this situation, we don’t expect the journeys to start from September,” said the official.

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