If all goes as planned, you will soon be able to sit and enjoy a good meal at the Andheri station. The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has already floated tenders to construct a food plaza at the newly constructed building of the Andheri (East) station. The Railways propose to introduce food plazas and fast food units at 58 stations in next year.
Virender Shah, group general manager of west zone for the IRCTC said on Friday that the IRCTC has decided to expand its catering services in the Mumbai division as well as all across the West zone of the Railways.
“In the current financial year, we have already opened tenders for 29 food plazas and five fast food joints in the Western zone and the tender for 58 more food plazas on the stations will be opened after April. Of these 58, 16 are on the Central Railway and 15 on the Western,” said Shah.
On the Central Railway, the major stations where the food plaza will come up include Masjid, Byculla, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Wadala, Tilak Road, Panvel, Titwala, Ambernath, Karjat, etc. and on the Western line stations such as Charni Road, Grant Road, Goregaon, Mahalaxmi will get either a food plaza or a fast food units depending upon availability of land.
According to IRCTC official, the land on the stations, which is used for the provision of public amenities is leased out to the IRCTC, which is then given to the commercial companies. IRCTC has already done such experiment at Churchgate, Mumbai Central and Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
Ironically, the Railways had implemented policy in 2009 that did not renew IRCTC’s contract for mobile catering services, including base kitchens, pantry cars and all food stalls on stations, but had said that the food plazas will remain with the railway subsidiary. This policy had caused a loss of about Rs200 crore to IRCTC. To recover the loss, they have decided to expand their catering services.
The IRCTC has also planned to introduce non-railway catering services, by opening food plazas and mini-restaurants on the highways. “We are tying up with the oil companies like Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil, by which the food plazas will come on Mumbai-Nasik and Mumbai-Ahmedabad highways soon,” said Rahul Himalian, additional general manager of IRCTC.