No love in the air? Plans to run special Karva Chauth train derail, IRCTC left red-faced

Only married couples were allowed on the train that came with special touches like a shower cubicle and foot massages

Indian railway

In what can only be called bad luck, IRCTC’s plans to run a special train for couples on KarvaChauth totally went off-track. The railway major had planned to run the Majestic Rajasthan Deluxe to cater to the interest of married couples, but had to cancel due to low occupancy.

Only two couples booked tickets in the train with 78 seats that could accommodate 39 couples. The Majestic Rajasthan Deluxe was scheduled to start before KarvaChauth on a five-day tour starting October 14 from Delhi’s Safdarjung Station and take couples on a ‘dream holiday’ to historical sites like Jaisalmer Fort, Patwonki Haveli, Gadisar Lake, Meherangarh Fort, JaswantThada, Amber Fort and City Palace in Rajasthan till October 18.

The promotional message of the IRCTC said, “This KarwaChauth, give your wife a special gift which she will remember for ages.”

The tickets were priced at INR 1, 02, 960 per couple in the AC first tier and INR 90,090 per couple in the AC 2 tier. The train also had facilities like a shower cubicle, a single-seater sofa, a personal digital locker and foot spa services among others. IRCTC also made special arrangements for children who would be travelling with their parents.

Officials said the low turnout could be due to the steep fares and that the couples who had booked their tickets, would be refunded.

Tryst with Privatisation
The news of the cancellation comes close on the heels on the decision of the Railway Ministry to bring in private operators to run passenger trains. This move has been since vehemently opposed by the All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF), the largest railway union which plans to go on an ‘indefinite strike’to protest against the “indiscriminate” privatisation of operating trains, stations, production units, among others.

The Tejas Express running on the Lucknow-Delhi route was the last train to be run by the non-railway operator IRCTC. It had also fallen to controversy when officials reported that it violated the tariff law under the Railways Act, 1989, since the Central government was the only competent authority to decide on tariff and not the IRCTC. According to senior railway officials, the fares of the Tejas Express are higher even though there is hardly any change in the running time.

The ticket of Train number 82501 IRCTC Tejas Express Lucknow to Delhi Executive Chair Car is priced at Rs 2,310. AC Chair car (CC) ticket, on the other hand, will cost you Rs 1,505. Train Number 82502 IRCTC Tejas Express ticket for Executive Chair Car (EC) will cost you Rs 2,450. The AC Chair car (CC) ticket is priced at Rs 1,755. The travel time of the train is 6 hours 15 minutes.

Compared to this, Train No 12004 Delhi-LucknowShatabdi Express, which takes 6 hours 35 minutes to cover the same distance, charges Rs 1,855 for AC Executive Class and Rs 1,165 for the AC Chair Car including GST, Super-Fast and reservation charges. The tariff for AC Chair Car for the SuhaildevSuper-Fast Express and GaribRath Express on the same route is Rs 645 and Rs 480 respectively.

With plans going off track, will IRCTC’s tryst with privatisation go full steam ahead is something we will have to wait and watch.
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