IRCTC has called for tenders for setting up food plazas in three key stations

You wake up in the morning, late. The next half-an-hour is an insane rush and you make it just in time to the MRTS station, having given up breakfast and wishing you could grab a bite. If this is a routine affair, the latest decision by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) may just be a lifesaver.

The corporation has invited tenders from agencies interested in setting up food plazas in three MRTS stations — Tirumailai, Thiruvanmiyur and Velachery. According to sources, this will be a pilot project. Based on its success, the project will be extended to other stations. There are a total of 17 MRTS stations on a 25-km stretch.

A huge amount of space lies unused in all the MRTS stations. On an average, more than 2,000 square feet is free in most of the stations. This space in many facilities has become a dumping ground for garbage. “The food plazas will come up near the ticketing area,” said a railway source.

The plazas will have multiple shops and serve multi-cuisine food. “It will cater to the needs of all passengers. The facility will be similar to the setup at Chennai Central railway station. We have received permission to set up the food plazas and will be starting the process soon,” said a senior railway official.

Railway officials said that the existing food plaza in Chennai Beach station is quite popular. “Even those who are not passengers can walk into the station and eat. The food court in Thiruvanmiyur station is expected to get a good crowd, especially due to the presence of IT companies,” said a railway official.

S. Ravi, a passenger, said that as of now, obtaining even drinking water inside the station is a big task. “This is a long-overdue move. The food courts should have been set up long ago considering commuter movement during office hours,” he said.

Another passenger, K. Hari, a government official said that such facilities would also be helpful to weary passengers returning after a long day’s work.

Commuters also pointed out that the setting up of such facilities would enhance the safety of the stations. “As of now, the ticketing area is dingy and poorly illuminated. This makes it very unsafe for passengers, especially women. But things will change if there are food outlets,” said S. Arivalagan, a regular MRTS commuter.

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