New Catering Policy by Indian Railways

As per Railway Board guidelines and the new catering policy, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Ltd. will now take over catering services on trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto from Howrah, Sealdah and other important stations in the eastern zone. By the end of July this year, the food, snacks, and desserts will be sourced from the same branded confectionery. No vendors operating in unhygienic conditions will serve food to the passengers on these trains.

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Debashis Chandra, group general manager (east), IRCTC, said, “We’re trying to standardize the food quality and quantity being served to passengers on all trains. We shall start with the premier trains and gradually extend to all others by the year-end. The next six months are crucial for us as onboard catering on trains are set to undergo a sea change. Hopefully, passengers will no longer have any cause for complaint.”

Presently, Indian Railways catering services are a complete mess as some trains are under IRCTC’s charge whereas the others are looked after zonal railways with the help of private agencies. IRCTC generally serves food to passengers from the base kitchens or designated outlets, but there were no checks on the food being served by the private agencies or their sources. As a result, complaints from passengers about the quality of food were reported frequently which thereby resulted in penalties.

“While tea bags on trains served by IRCTC are of reputed brands, private caterers use brands that people have never heard of. Similarly, the food or snacks aren’t branded. Even curd is served by private agencies in kulhars (small earthen pots) while IRCTC uses branded stuff,“ a traveller said.

Now, the role of private catering agencies will only be limited to collecting food from the base kitchens run by the IRCTC and serving it to the passengers.