After the roaring hit of ‘Restaurant on Wheels’ at Mumbai and Nagpur railway stations, the Central Railway (CR) has appointed bidders to start similar facilities at four new locations – Akurdi, Chinchwad, Miraj and Baramati stations.
“Now, the newly-appointed bidders will commence the business in the next four to five months,” said Chief Public Relations Officer Shivaji Sutar, who added that the tenders floated during the Covid period had yielded little response.
Earlier, the Railways converted old coaches into dining spaces to start ‘Restaurant on Wheels’ at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), and Nagpur station last October and February respectively, under the non-fare revenue scheme.
A private agency has been appointed to run the restaurant business in lieu of the annual licence fees, said Sutar.
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The annual licence fee to run Restaurant on Wheels is Rs 40-45 lakh approximately, said a statement from the Railways. The annual fees depend on the city and the location of the station.
The CSMT and Nagpur ‘Restaurant on Wheels’ have become landmark eating houses in the area fetching a total of 1,25,000 and 1,50,000 visitors respectively ever since their launch.
The Central Railway has also identified seven other locations to set up similar projects in the coming days – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Kalyan, Lonavala, Neral, Igatpuri, Dadar and Matheran.
Sutar said that the Railways would soon be floating tenders for these seven locations as well. Moreover, Matheran station has been newly added to the seven identified locations, he said.
‘Restaurant on Wheels’ is a modified coach mounted on rails. It is a fine-dining place that can accommodate more than 40 patrons. The interiors have been painted with a railway theme.
According to Central Railway, the Restaurant on Wheels functions inside a long-distance Express Mail coach.
The coach that is not fit for train service is selected for the initiative by the CR. The raw coach is provided to the appointed agency which later transforms it into the dining space. Meanwhile, the CR apart from taking annual licence fees also decides on the rate of the menu.