The Railway Board has instructed its zones to convert overaged coaches into rail-themed restaurants to generate revenue and provide employment.
“Rail museums/heritage parks that witness substantial footfall, has potential to supplement its revenue as well generate additional employment by opening rail coach restaurants. For this purpose, railways may suitably convert, refurbish one or two overage coaches into rail theme-based restaurant for catering to museum visitors and general public,” Subrata Nath, executive director (heritage), has said to the railway zones in a letter dated July 21.
Citing the example of the Shan-e-Bhopal — India’s first multi-cuisine rail-coach restaurant located in Bhopal — Nath said such eateries were popular among tourists and the general public.
The concept design and detailed layout may be decided engaging professional agencies in the field of architecture and hospitality sector, the letter said. The zones should formulate proposals and sanction appropriate works for rejuvenation and strengthening railway museums, heritage parks, galleries, providing facilities for differently-abled visitors and installation of CCTV cameras, it added.
The letter has also listed a protocol to be followed in restoring vintage saloons and coaches in museums, which require regular up-keep and periodic refurbishing. It has instructed assessment of such coaches by professional agencies to formulate a detailed report of their current status of preservation and work needed for restoration.
Earlier, the Indian Railways had floated a plan to lease out eight royal saloons to private hotel chains or tour operators.
Last December, it had floated an expression of interest (EoI), seeking proposals from private firms to refurbish the bogeys and operate them as restaurants on a revenue-sharing model on a 25-year lease.
On January 9, representatives of five of the country’s top catering chains, besides an internationally-known travel firm, had showed interest.