New Delhi: Old train coaches which were discarded and auctioned as scrap earlier could soon be converted into theme-based restaurants. If everything goes according to plan, then such train-theme restaurants will come up all over the country in the next few years. The Railway Board wants to generate more revenue and provide employment with such stylish food outlets.

Railways has been operating rail museums and heritage parks in different parts of the country. Some of them receive substantial footfall. It is in these museums and parks that the Railway Board wants its zonal offices to set up the restaurants.

PTI quoted a senior railway official as saying that the Railways might convert and refurbish its overage coaches into rail theme-based restaurants to cater to the general public.

The Railways has already tasted success with the popularity of Shan-e-Bhopal, India’s first multi-cuisine rail-coach restaurant which attracts both tourists and locals for its unique ambience and delicacies.

The one in Bhopal has an heritage feel to it and even boasts of sights and sounds resembling the look and feel of a railway station.

The Railway Board says that the design and layout of such restaurants should be decided by engaging agencies in the field of architecture and hospitality sector. Railway 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, says the board.

The Railways 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.

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