The air-conditioned lounge that was inaugurated at Tatanagar station on Wednesday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Giant LCD televisions, cushioned seats, spacious toilets for men and women, choice of refreshments, complimentary newspapers and magazines — welcome to the snazzy air-conditioned lounge at Tatanagar station.
The 1,800sqft modern waiting area, which is the first of its kind at any junction under the South Eastern Railway (SER), was thrown open to passengers on Wednesday.
The Nest, as it is likely to be named in a few days, can help 30 people relax at a time with the option to munch on snacks and chocolates or sip tea, coffee and juice. The two LCD televisions — a 53-inch one on the facing wall and a 36-inch one on the side wall — will up the entertainment quotient.
While music will help soothe your journey-frayed nerves, wi-fi and taxi service kiosk will soon fill in the technology and communication gaps. A public address system for train updates is also on the anvil.
Now, now, lounging at such an A-class facility at an A-category station doesn’t come for free.
Tatanagar’s commercial inspector Babban Kumar, who has been assigned the task of ensuring proper upkeep of the high-end lobby, said passengers would have to pay a paltry fee of Rs 17 (inclusive of service tax) to avail of the relaxing wait.
“The lounge is the only of its kind in not just Chakradharpur division, but the entire South Eastern Railway. It has been developed on the lines of waiting lobbies at international airports. The chief booking supervisor’s office near the railway mail service has been converted into the lounge with an investment of nearly Rs 10 lakh,” he told The Telegraph.
Kumar further said that the new AC waiting area had been outsourced to a local private agency for maintenance. “The agency will share the revenue with the railway,” he added.
Passengers welcomed the railway initiative.
“We are happy that an AC lounge has opened doors at Tatanagar. Until now, there was just a common waiting hall. With the entry being free, the hall is always crowded. Besides, it is not properly maintained either. The new lobby will definitely draw a good response and be of great relief for people like me,” said a VIP passenger, requesting anonymity.
Officials at Garden Reach, the headquarters of South Eastern Railway, said the AC facility had been sanctioned for Tatanagar because it falls on the Howrah-Mumbai main line.
“It is also the most busiest railway station under SER and witnesses a daily footfall of over 60,000 passengers, according to our official records,” a spokesperson said, adding that such high-end lounges existed only at Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai stations.