LUCKNOW: Passengers may not have to fret over the poor quality food provided on board by railways. Reason, there is now an IRCTC-appointed supervisor present on board to taste the food provided to passengers. Prominent trains like Mahamana express and Humsafar express have supervisors who take round in coaches and randomly taste the food provided to passengers.
Shatabdi, Duronto and Rajdhani trains moving through or originating from the state would have the supervisors in place soon. “Supervisors, besides tasting the food, would also act against overcharging,” said chief regional manager, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Lucknow region, Ashwini Srivastava.
Railways notified the new catering policy in February to improve the quality of food served to passengers. Food in trains will now be served by IRCTC and not railways. Besides, IRCTC, in order to improve quality of food served to passengers, will take to unbundling of catering services, under the new policy.
It would be separate service providers to cook food in the base kitchens and serve it to passengers in trains. “Base kitchens will be monitored by IRCTC. Quality control would be much easier as food will be prepared at these base kitchens only,” said the official.
Janahar at the stations would serve base kitchens and new ones will be set up as per requirement.
Besides, with separate vendors hired for cooking and serving food, it will not be easy for vendors to suppress passenger complaints. The new catering policy will gradually be implemented in Lucknow region which has Lucknow, Varanasi, Agra, Jhansi, Allahabad (Kanpur) and Bareilly divisions.
Since most Rajdhani and Duronto trains operate through Kanpur, Allahabad, Jhansi and Agra divisions, these would be the priority sector. Lucknow-New Delhi Shatabdi, too, gets food packets loaded from Kanpur.
In 2005, it was IRCTC providing food to passengers on board. In 2010, railway ministry changed the policy and entrusted railways with the responsibility. Now, IRCTC has been handed over the responsibility back. The contracts running would continue. The new contract, meanwhile, would be awarded accordingly.