Catering services in all trains with pantry cars will be handed over to IRCTC by the year-end in order to improve onboard food quality, according to Railways. Besides passengers in seven Rajdhani and six Shatabdi trains will have an option for e-catering facility. IRCTC will be given responsibility of managing catering services in all trains with pantry cars be December end, Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohd Jamshed said here today. Till now, the zonal railways were managing catering services in majority trains as per the catering policy 2010.
There are about 350 trains including Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto which are equipped with pantry cars. With a view to improve catering services at rail premises, Railways will also conduct third party audit at pantry cars, base kitchens and food stalls to ensure best practice. “We have hired two reputed companies to do the third party audits at food stalls and pantry cars,” Jamshed said. Railways has also undertaken a three-week drive to inspect food quality and hygienic condition at base kitchens. The Railways formulated catering policy in 2005 and according to the policy, IRCTC, the tourism and catering wing of the Railways, was given catering responsibility for all trains.
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In 2010, the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced the policy in which catering responsibility was taken away from the IRCTC and zonal railways were asked to look food services. However, since complaints against food quality were increasing constantly, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu decided to go for a new catering policy aiming to improve food services at rail premises. The new catering policy was announced in February under which IRCTC was given catering responsibility with stringent guidelines. The new policy envisages separation of cooking and distribution of food. Jamshed said now options have been given to passengers in a few Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto trains to opt out of the catering services while booking tickets.
Catering services are mandatory in premier services like Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains and the catering cost is included in the ticket. Seeking to explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional on trains, Railways had earlier announced in June last year to undertake the scheme on Nizamuddin-Mumbai August Kranti Rajdhani Express and Pune- Secunderabad Shatabdi Express. Passengers have to specifically opt out from the mandatory food option and catering charges will be excluded from the ticket fare. Catering charges ranging from Rs 175 to Rs 340 will be deducted from the total fare if the passenger opts out from the mandatory food options.