KOCHI: Ernakulam South Railway Station will soon boast of having a food court which will maintain ‘high’ standards of food safety and hygiene. The IRCTC has joined hands with the Casino Air-Caterers and Flight Services (CAFS), a part of the Casino Group of Hotels, to run its food plaza at the station. “We are planning to set up vegetarian, non-vegetarian and Chinese food joints. Besides, a cafe will be opened which will serve burgers and sandwiches,” said George Dominic, CEO of CAFS.
CAFS was awarded the tender to establish the food court recently. Now, it is awaiting IRCTC to approve its basic design for the food court.
“The plan will be approved soon. Once it is done, it should be open to public within 120 days,” said an IRCTC official. CAFS offers in-flight dishes and runs its operations from facilities near Kochi, Kozhikode, Chennai, Jaipur and Managaluru airports. The company will soon launch its operations in Pune as well. The CAFS was also awarded the tender to run the cafeteria at the CIAL’s new international terminal.
“We will launch airport-style facilities which will offer food at affordable rates,” said V B Rajan, COO of CAFS.
Currently, the only operational food facility at the Ernakulam Junction is CKK catering service’s Vegetarian Refreshment Room.
“After the vegetarian refreshment room was established, nobody used to go to IRCTC food plaza as it was in a horrible condition,” said VV Rajendran, who runs a bookstall outside the dilapidated building that housed IRCTC food plaza till September 2016, when it was closed down to issue fresh tenders.
CAFS’s tie-up with IRCTC is its first business partnership with the railways. Depending on the success of the project, it may expand its services to other stations too. “We will see how the food plaza at the South Station runs and then decide on competing for tenders issued by other stations as well. Operating a good food service, maintaining high safety and hygiene standards is a much-needed paradigm shift within the railways industry,” said Dominic.
Apprehensions have been raised about the pricing of food products at the CAFS food court. “It is a big conglomerate associated with major hotels. So, I don’t think the food will be cheap but I am fine with that as long as I have options to choose from,” said V Subramanian, a frequent traveller from south station.