Sliding rouble spells trouble for IRCTC's New Year plans

The corporation had announced a Goa Special tour package aimed at Russian tourists who flock to Goa for the New Year; but the recent fall in Russian currency has killed the demand for the train

The deepening troubles in the Russian economy have had an adverse impact on Indian Railways. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) had planned on operating a Goa Special tour package for Russian tourists on the eve of New Year, but the sliding Russian rouble has all but killed the demand for the train.

Due to the cold wave in north India, many tourists landed up in Goa, driving up demand. Hotel owners thus cancelled their commitments with the IRCTC. File pic for representation
Due to the cold wave in north India, many tourists landed up in Goa, driving up demand. Hotel owners thus cancelled their commitments with the IRCTC. File pic for representation

IRCTC has had to cancel the train at the last moment. IRCTC’s Goa Special tourist package included travel, accommodation in Goa, sightseeing and a tour escort inside each coach.

The special 16-coach train with 3-tier, 2-tier and first-class air-conditioned (AC) compartments had been brought down from Delhi, and was scheduled to leave for Goa on December 29. However, a day before Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is to arrive in Mumbai, this special package tour was cancelled.

Going down
Railway officials said that on December 27, the IRCTC made the provision for booking this special package on their website; but by evening it was removed. “We started getting enquiries from 2 pm, but we removed it at 5 pm. Until then, no booking had been made,” said an IRCTC official.

As part of the package, this train would have left Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) at 10 pm on December 29, made a halt at Panvel and reached Goa. It would have taken the same route back on January 1, with an additional halt at Dadar station.

There were three price slabs Standard (Rs 12,999 per passenger), Comfort Rs 19,999 per passenger) and Deluxe (Rs 22,999 per passenger). “This train was being targeted at the Russians, who visit Goa in huge numbers during New Year. However, with their economy not doing well, the demand fell,” said a railway official.

Winter is coming
IRCTC had already booked AC rooms at several resorts and bungalows in Goa for patrons of this package. But, with the cold wave and snowfall hitting northern tourist destinations like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and others, travellers made headway for the warmer shores of Goa leading to a surge in hotel prices due to demand.

“The resorts and bungalow owners realised these (Indian) tourists were ready to pay much more than what they were offered in the rail package,” said a senior rail official. Thus, commitments made to IRCTC were overridden and IRCTC had to call off its package.

Now, Central Railway will run this train as a special train on the same day. “We will accommodate this train with fares based on dynamic pricing,” said a senior CR official. This means prices will depend on demand if demand increases, fares escalate accordingly and vice versa.

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