Now Meals of Your Choice in Trains through E Catering
Passengers who travel by long-distance trains will be able to relish food from a restaurant of their choice along the route as the Indian Railways would soon introduce e-catering facility to improve the travel experience. As of now, commuters have the option of buying food from the pantry car or unauthorized vendors.
Railway Board member (traffic) D P Pandey said, “We plan to introduce this facility as a pilot project in two trains, including the Mumbai-Delhi Paschim Express. The order can be booked through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation.”
The Indian Railways has drawn a lot of flak for catering because of the pantry car operator’s tendency to fleece people on quantity as well as quality. The introduction of e-catering facility through participation of private food outlets will spur competition and lead to improvement in service and quality of food offered by the pantry car contractor, officials said.
Under the system, a passenger will have to provide his travel details, select the city and the food outlet from which he would like to order the food. A menu card will also be provided on the website.
A senior WR official said, “There will be a cut-off time before which the person can order the food from a particular restaurant. For example, it will be mentioned that food from this restaurant has to be ordered at least one hour before the train’s arrival at the station.”
Passengers will be allowed to pay for the food either before or after it is delivered to them at the station. Pandey said, “The railways would not like to bear the responsibility of the quality of the food items to be ordered from private restaurants.”
In August, the railway board had allowed zonal railways to introduce pre-packed or ready-to-eat meals of reputed brands on an optional basis.
To figure out what kind of food passengers prefer, Western Railway had appointed Haldiram to sell pre-cooked food like dal rice, Hyderabadi pulao and chhole rice on Paschim Express for four days. WR’s chief public relations officer Sharat Chandrayan said, “We took a feedback from 100 passengers per train who bought the food and the result was positive.” Sixty-four per cent of the passengers said they were “very happy” with the food quality while 25% said it was good. Only 11% were “not happy” with the food.