New Delhi, Jan 26 () : Indian Railways has effected yet another hike in catering and locker as well as dormitory services.
Indian Railways has decided to do away with pantry car services in all trains and instead set up base kitchens in all railway junctions and major starting destinations. The pantry car services are being controlled by two contractors hailing from Kolkata and more so brothers with one base being from Lucknow. The complaints against these contractors were mounting for over-charging, foul language and stale food. The Railway Minister had put out a complaint number for travellers to tell about the quality of food.
In a silent move, the Railways affected a hike in locker facility and in dormitory as well as rooms in stations. These had been lying not upgraded for a decade.
The base kitchens will be leased out on railway properties at Re 1 per sq m and the prices will be fixed by railways. The food prepared by base kitchens will only be hereafter heated in pantry cars and served in trains. Pantry cars will only make tea/coffee and soups with certified branded products.
The monopoly of the railway contractors in fleecing travellers will be done away with setting up 350 base stations across the country. Currently, six lakh meals and snacks in a day to passengers including 91,000 meals being served in Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains are served which costs Rs 2000 crore business for railways.
With regionalising the catering business, railways will tie up with branded food items region-wise to serve quality food. Quality food makers like Saravana Bhavan or Kamat in the South or other regional players will be open to set base kitchens. This will help travellers to get quality food and also do away with cartelisation of food supply. Yet another move is to introduce branded stuffs like in curd and similar products so that complaints on these products will be addressed by these companies. Coming on the heels of the fare hike, Railways expect to serve quality food and increase revenue.