IRCTC puts base kitchen plan on track, to float tenders for 200 stations

Written by Shreya Roy | Bangalore, Jul 1 | Updated: Jul 3 2008, 04:05am hrs
Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC), a 100% subsidiary of the ministry of railways, is all set to float tenders for installation and operation of base kitchens in over 200 stations across the country. The tenders would be floated by mid-July, according to IRCTC officials.

Roughly 90% of these kitchens will be franchised to private catering organisations and the rest will be self-governed. We are looking to co-partner with private investors to co-create customer experience, says V Sriram, IRCTC regional director, South Zone. In Karnataka, IRCTC has recognised Bangalore, Arsikere, Davangere, Hubli, Gulbarga, Hindupur and Hosur as potential sites for setting up base kitchens.

For the Bangalore mega base kitchen, which may be up for private bidding, licensing fee is expected to be in the region of Rs 50 lakh per annum and revenue for franchisees could be estimated at approximately Rs 1.5 crore, according to S Gagarin IRCTC chief regional manager, South Western Zone.

Kitchens in high traffic stations like Bangalore, would have a daily capacity to churn out over one lakh meals.

Our main concerns are maintenance of quantity, quality and hygiene. The mega base kitchens will be large set ups with a high degree of automated mechanisation, since we would like to reduce human interference in handling food as much as possible said Gagarin.

IRCTC, along with providing the space, monitor kitchen set up and quality, will also mark out the sales jurisdiction for each of the franchisees.

Tenders will also be floated in July for setting up of food plazas in Karnataka, for which 12 sites, including Bangalore Cantonment, Mysore, Yeswanthpur, Kengeri, etc have already been identified. Trying to repeat the success they have had in the Chennai railway stations, where some of the franchisees are generating revenue of over Rs 3 lakh per day, IRCTC hopes to have these in place in Karnataka by December.

Additionally, IRCTC will make efforts to attract big players such as KFC, Pizza Corner and McDonalds, to set up quick service food kiosks. These kiosks will be limited strictly to bidding by companies with revenue in excess of Rs 25 crore.

We have no concerns in metros. However, it becomes a very difficult proposition in areas such as North Karnataka where we are unable to attract quality players. It is not because there are no possibilities, but because people can't see the possibilities, said Gagarin speaking about the progress being made on these set ups.

In a bid to uphold the railway ministers farmer friendly policies, the IRCTC is trying to balance its interests in large private companies with its ideologies, by making room for more local co operatives as well. We are trying to bring quality, private players into railways, not losing site of the interest of the farmers said Gagarin.