The Orient Express is making tracks to India. One of Europe’s largest luxury train service operators, Orient-Express Hotels & Trains Ltd, which markets opulent rail travel at an average cost of Rs3.7 lakh a person, is in talks with Indian Railways to explore a tie-up in India.
Orient-Express, whose only operation in Asia is the Southeast Asia route from Thailand to Singapore, is known for its green and cream carriages with rooms that occupy about half the space of a tennis court, fine dining and wines and a pianist at the bar. In Europe, it operates routes that criss-cross the continent from France to Istanbul, or Italy to Prague.
P.K. Goel, managing director, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp., a subsidiary that handles all tourism related issues for the Railways, says the operator was interested in running a luxury train service touching the 10 most popular spots in India. “They (Orient-Express) have to get back to us with a detailed proposal.”
So far, luxury trains, such as the expensive Palace on Wheels and the Deccan Odyssey, run on shorter routes a few hours’ drive by car. If Orient-Express were to come to India it could be the first train service in the country to cover such a long route.
The most expensive trip on the Palace on Wheels costs about Rs1.6 lakh, and puts an entire carriage at the passenger’s disposal. On the Orient-Express, all carriages are at least double occupancy and the most expensive trip—from Paris to Istanbul—could cost more than twice that of the most expensive Palace on Wheels trip.