As Maharajas Express looks to cut prices, its king-size life at half rate

Written by Rajat Arora | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 24 2012, 09:45am hrs
Hit hard by a slowing economy and a turbulent business environment, corporates may soon be able to let their hair down as the railways is planning to let them holiday on the uber-posh Maharajas' Express this festive season without burning a hole in their pockets. Indian Railways subsidiary, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), is planning to slash ticket prices of Maharajas' Express one of the most expensive trains in the world by almost half for corporate tourist packages.

Maharajas Express, an 88-seater train, which costs around R8,00,000 for an eight day/seven night trip, is mostly booked by the corporates for luxury travel tours of their senior executives and foreign clients. With the adverse business environment and fall in the number of foreign business delegates, the IRCTC will be offering around 40% discount to corporates to ensure 100% occupancy for the season, starting in the last week of September. The discount will also be applicable for domestic tourists.

The train usually gets 60-70% occupancy and most of the booking comes from corporates. Since corporates are going through turbulent times, we don't want them to part ways with us. We'll be offering them huge discounts but it will be applicable only for Indian residents, a senior IRCTC officer said requesting anonymity.

The luxury train has 23 coaches, two fine-dining restaurants and bars. All cabins have LCD TVs, Wi-fi access, individual temperature control and full en-suite bathroom. The only presidential suite comprising a full train car is the largest suite in a train in the world. IRCTC runs five premium tourism packages by the name of Heritage of India, Treasures of India, Gems of India, Indian Panorama and Indian Splender.

According to IRCTC sources, the eight days/seven night package will cost somewhere around R5 lakh and packages with shorter itinerary will be around R2-3 lakh, making it affordable.

Presently, the train has been earning profits for IRCTC and is also attracting a lot of foreign tourists to India. It is perhaps one of the most expensive trains in India, a railway officer said.

Along with Maharajas' Express, there are several other seasonal luxury trains operated by state tourism boards in partnership with railways such as the Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey and the Indian Maharajas, which attract a lot of foreign business tourists, but still their financial condition is not as sound as that of the Maharajas' Express.