Around 345 passengers travelled for free on the loss-making luxury tourist trains in Rajasthan during 2012 to 2017, an official said today. In an answer to a question raised by MLA Jogaram Patel in the Assembly today, the Rajasthan Tourism department said, “around 289 passengers, including 219 recommended by the Indian Railways and 70 by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) travelled on complementary tickets on Palace on Wheels during 2012-13 and 2016-17″. ” During the same period, a total of 56 passengers, including 33 recommended by the RTDC and 23 by the Indian Railways, travelled on Royal Rajasthan on Wheels,” the department said.
Palace on Wheels (POW) and Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (RROW) are luxury tourist trains which cover popular sites in Rajasthan. Both the trains are operated by the Indian Railways in association with the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC). Last month, a report released by the Ministry of Railways revealed that both the trains, aimed at luring the international tourists, were running into a serious trouble as their revenue was decreased in the last three years.
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During 2016-17, Palace on Wheels and Royal Rajasthan on Wheels ran with 59 per cent and 51.83 per cent vacant seats as against 52 per cent and 53.76 per cent in the year 2015-16, as per the data. The tourism department in its reply said there was provision of complimentary travel of two passengers on each tour of both the trains as per the MoU between the Indian Railways and the RTDC. “The RTDC made all efforts in promotion and publicity but tourist flow is affected due to advisory issued by several countries, leading to vacancy in the luxury trains,” the department replied.