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Food court plan back on track, passengers cheer initiative

- Railway Board green light to construction work, tenders invited; stress on hygiene and variety of grub items

Passengers at Patna Junction can now look forward to munching on their favourite snacks while waiting for their trains.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has finally decided to ahead with the food court plan. The construction work would start soon. The project had got delayed owing to administrative reasons. IRCTC is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the railways.

Apart from travellers enjoying a bite at the food court, there would also be a takeaway facility. According to sources, stress would be laid on hygiene.

“The foundation stone of the food court was supposed to be laid in August 2011. However, owing to some administrative reasons, the project was put on hold. A few months back, the Railway Board gave the go-ahead to the project and tender was invited for the same. Within a month, we would select an agency for the construction of the food court,” a senior official of IRCTC, Patna, told The Telegraph.

The area, where the food court would be constructed, has already been earmarked — it would come up outside the station across 1,500sqm.

On the tentative time of beginning of construction, the IRCTC official said: “It will take at least one month to select the agency. The design will be sent to the railway board for suggestions or changes, which would take another month. If the board does make changes, we would have to send the final design again to get approval. So tentatively, construction work would start by October this year. The food court would start operations by January 2015.”

The proposed court would serve more than 20 food items, including Chinese, south Indian, litti chokha and others.

An official posted at the office of the divisional railway manager (DRM), Danapur, said: “The idea behind the food court is to provide hygienic meals at reasonable rates. The project would cost Rs 30 lakh and there would be a seating capacity of 40 to 50 people. Patna Junction is the busiest station under East Central Railway and a few express trains have been introduced. It’s our duty to serve the passengers in a proper way.”

The IRCTC and Indian Railways have also proposed to open food plazas at 40 locations in Bihar, including Samastipur, Begusarai, Raxaul, Danapur and others.

The initiative has naturally brought cheer among passengers. Vinod Prasad, a resident of Madhepura, said: “I hope the IRCTC and Indian Railways execute the plan as soon as possible. The project has already been delayed. It would be a big help and benefit passengers. Patna Junction is becoming crowded day by day and this new food court will give us some relief.”

Patna Junction already has one food plaza at platform No. 1 and food kiosks on all platforms. It also has a 24-hour Jan Ahaar (not under IRCTC) at platform No. 1, which offers quality items at subsidised rate. Apart from this, a food plaza has been set up at platform No. 10 of Patna Junction.