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Monday, 4 August 2014

Now, food from MTR, ITC, Haldiram's on trains

The Railways will start serving precooked food from famous brands on three trains, two of them originating from Karnataka, from this week. PTI file photo
The Railways will start serving precooked food from famous brands on three trains, two of them originating from Karnataka, from this week. 

While MTR will cater to the needs of passengers of Delhi-bound Karnataka Express, those boarding Bangalore-Ahmedabad Express can taste food varieties from ITC. Paschim Express—that runs between Amritsar and Mumbai—will serve food items made by Haldiram’s.

The food does not turn stale within a duration and does not contain any toxic preservatives. The companies are known for maintaining quality and variety in offering Indian-style food.

The scheme is part of the Railway Budget presented by Union minister Sadananda Gowda in which he assured of serving better food on trains. “This is being done on a trial basis and will continue after we evaluate the response of the travellers,” a senior official told Deccan Herald. 

According to officials, a high level team of Railway Board officials had inspected the kitchens and processing centres of the three companies. Only after their approval, the companies have been given this opportunity, he added. MTR and Haldiram’s supply only vegetarian food whereas ITC’s food includes non-vegetarian varieties.

“This (scheme) would not be a monopoly. This is being done to give travellers enough choice,” said an official. He cited that people have been complaining about both quality and variety. 

However, the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which looks after ticketing and catering, does not seem to be happy with the scheme. 

Mamata Banerjee, during her tenure as the Railways Minister, had devised a new catering policy in which IRCTC’s role was reduced while private players were given importance. The public sector unit diversified its business and explored new clients outside railways and survived well. 

“These are big brands and there is an obvious bias in favour of them. We are equally equipped to supply pre-cooked food. In fact, we had made a successful trial of supplying pre-cooked food,” claimed an IRCTC official. 

A Railway official said they have introduced an efficient system for registering complaints against bad quality or service in catering facilities and there would be enough check and balance to maintain health and hygiene on trains. He cited a recent instance where penalty was imposed on suppliers, including IRCTC.

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