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Round-the-clock food court at station

Wary of not repeating last month’s food fiasco on the Rajdhani Express — where some passengers publicly protested the quality of food served on board — the Eastern Railways has decided to upgrade its catering service.

As the first step in that direction, a round-the-clock, multi-cuisine food plaza, Comesum, was unveiled in Howrah station’s new complex on Wednesday.

The first-of-its-kind eatery in the Eastern Railway division has been opened by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a wing of the railway ministry. R.K. Associates, a leading food and beverage enterprise, has been given charge to operate the food plaza.

Comesum is housed on a prime location in the new complex and is accessible from the lounge and platform areas of the station. Speaking at the inauguration, Eastern Railways general manager Sunil Sengupta admitted to having received a number of complaints from passengers about the quality of food served on the Rajdhani, particularly the one from Howrah.

“The quality needs to be improved considerably on trains, especially on Rajdhani from Howrah, and also in the restaurants in the stations,” admitted Sengupta. “The food served on the train on the Sealdah-New Delhi route is comparatively better. We will have to monitor both the quality and quantity of food served on board.”

According to Sengupta, the authorities concerned are drawing up a plan to upgrade the catering system in the railways by providing hygienic and quality food to passengers. “The IRCTC is doing a commendable job and I am sure the Indian Railways will be able to provide quality service to all its passengers,” Sengupta said.

The IRCTC authorities asserted that quality service, combined with comfortable interiors, will provide rail passengers a new level of satisfaction at the food plaza. Reputed third-party food audit companies will be entrusted to supervise the quality provided by the restaurant.

The IRCTC has already commissioned eight food plazas — one each in Pune, Chennai, Mumbai, Kurseong, Visakhapatnam and Allahabad and two in Patna. The authorities also plan to open a few more in Howrah station’s old complex and one at Sealdah. Asansol, Durgapur and Malda, in the eastern region, are also on the list of probable sites.

The railway ministry’s catering and tourism corporation organises training programmes for its catering staff, supervisers and cooks in order to maintain a high standard. The authorities have also set up plants in Delhi and Patna to launch packaged drinking water, under the brand name of Rail Neer, which will soon be available in the market.

Finance panel meet: An 18-member team of the 12th Finance Commission will meet representatives of the state government, including chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and finance minister Asim Dasgupta, at a day-long meet on Thursday at a city hotel. The team will also meet academicians, representatives of panchayats, municipal corporations, municipalities and political parties during the two-day visit.

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