Soon, passengers on Indian trains will have the option to tailor food on board to suit their specific needs, whether that's for diabetics, infants, or fitness enthusiasts, the Railway Board said in an order on Tuesday, 15 November.
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the catering arm of the Indian Railways, has been granted the flexibility to customise its menu, with an aim to improve its food catering services and give more options to passengers. So what food options will be available onboard trains? The Quint will answer all your questions.
Why is the IRCTC providing this level of food flexibilty to its customers?
"As a measure to improve catering services on trains, it has been decided to give IRCTC the flexibility to customise the menu to include the items from regional cuisines, seasonal delicacies, diabetic-friendly foods, baby food, and other healthy food options, including millet-based local products," Hindustan Times reported quoting the order.
A railway official told the publication that they have received complaints from passengers from southern and western states such as Maharashtra about a dearth of regional foods. For instance, a train to Gujarat will have local delicacies like fafda and dhokla, while a train to Maharashtra would include foods like wada pav, the official added .
Currently, the IRCTC has to get the menus, comprising mostly of standardised food items and beverages, approved by the Railway Board before it can introduce them on trains.
This is the first time that the board has given the IRCTC so much control over the food onboard their trains.
What about menus for 'prepaid trains'?
The order stated that for 'prepaid' trains, in which catering charges are included in the passenger fare, the menu will be decided by the IRCTC within the tariff already notified.
The sale of a-la-carte meals and branded food items on MRP will also be permitted on these 'prepaid' trains. The menu and tariff for a-la-carte meals will be decided by the IRCTC, it noted.
What about menu for mail/express trains?
For other mail/express trains, a menu of budget-friendly items including standard meals will be decided by the IRCTC, to fit within the tariff paid. The order adds that the menu and tariff of 'janta' meals will not be changed.
Sale of a-la-carte meals and branded food items on MRP will be allowed on mail/express trains. However, the menu and tariff of such a-la-carte meals will be decided by the IRCTC, it said.
What else does the order state?
The board, in the order, also asked the IRCTC that while deciding on the menu, it will have to ensure that the standard of food and service is maintained, that safeguards are built in to avoid frequent and undue changes like changes in quantity and quality and to prevent the use of inferior brands to avoid passenger grievances, as well as upgrading the overall quality of food on these trains.
Till now, passengers only had the option of choosing local cuisines in trains from outlets that have tied up with the catering service through the IRCTC mobile application.