Railways has roped in self-help groups (SHGs) for providing local cuisines in running trains through station-based e-catering service. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC), the catering arm of railways, has empanelled nine SHGs to provide authentic regional food cooked in hygienic conditions at 10 stations including Adra, Secunderabad, Vijayawada, Mysore, Ernakulam and Vishakhapatnam.
Passengers of all trains originating/stopping at these stations can avail of the facility of SHG cooked food through e-catering. Currently, 11 lakh meals are served in a day at running trains across the country out of which private caterers provide majority of meals.
Railways had launched the station-based e-catering facility last year to widen the scope of catering options for train travellers. The local cuisine scheme has been launched to encourage self-help groups to participate in the public transporter’s catering system and also to provide multiple options for passengers to avail on the train journey, a senior Railway Ministry official said.
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To begin with, nine SHGs have come forward to provide popular local cuisine at 10 stations and it is expected that more and more SHGs would join the scheme, he said. Railways has announced a new catering policy with the aim of providing quality food at rail premises and reduce the number of complaints against the existing catering system. Railways receives about 25 complaints against food quality in a day which are being addressed, the official said.
The new catering policy envisages separation of cooking from distribution of food on trains and encourages e-catering system. Involvement of SHGs in e-catering provides scope for employment generation and proliferation of the scheme is expected in the days to come.