In the recent past, the Indian Railways has shown the ability of thinking out of the box, time and again, in order to ensure smooth operations and commercial well-being. In one such step, all 16 zones of the Indian Railways are all set to host luxury restaurants made out of cast off rail coaches. In fact, work on five such restaurants has started already. It is important to mention here that one such restaurant called Chennai Express, anmed after the Mumbai-Chennai train, is already functional in Chennai and it has registered a huge success. This is an innovative measure by the Indian Railways to drive profits.
The Chennai Express restaurant has generated an impressive response and encouraged by this enthusiastic response, the Indian Railways is now looking to set up more such restaurants out of discarded coaches. As per a source in the Railway Board, the next such restaurants would come up in Cooch Behar and Prayagraj by the end of this year. Moreover, work on a similar restaurant is also underway in Mumbai.
A senior IRCTC official said that the transporter wanted “to set up one such rail restaurant in each zonal area”. The official added, “Work is already on in a few places, including Hajipur and Kolkata.” He also said, “Western Railways had also visited the Chennai restaurant and wanted to adopt the same model.”
Making restaurants out of discarded coaches is an excellent commercial idea that helps the Indian Railways in earning revenue out of an otherwise obsolete asset. These restaurants made out of cast off rail coaches comprise of 16 tables and can accommodate 60 people. Moreover, the patio designed to resemble a typical railway platform can accommodate another 30 people. Therefore, a rail coach restaurant serves as a full-fledged luxury restaurant boasting a capacity of 90 people at a time. Chennai Express, the first such restaurant hosted by the Indian Railways does not serve breakfast and its timings are 11 am to 3 pm for lunch and 7 pm to 10.30 pm for dinner. Between 3 pm to 7 pm, the entire rail coach restaurant can be booked for a party consisting of upto 60 guests.
IRCTC official Ravi Kumar said, “IRCTC was asked to do the interiors and the seating arrangement.” He further said, “We didn’t have enough space for a kitchen, so we used a makeshift container and modified it into a modular kitchen with all possible equipment.” He added, “We spent roughly Rs 20 lakh on the interiors, including painting and lighting etc… Around Rs 7 lakh was spent on the kitchen alone.”
This is a really economical investment for opening a luxury restaurant and therefore, the Railways has clearly opened up immense potential for itself in this sector. If luxury restaurants can be opened up at the cost of Rs. 20 lakh in metropolitan cities such as Chennai, then the Railways would obviously be tempted to explore the option of opening more such restaurants across all its zones. With this innovative move, the Railways has virtually worked out a miracle by converting what would have otherwise been defined as junk into commercially viable, profit-making assets.