CHENNAI: Soon poor quality of food during train travel will be a thing of the past with the railways proposing to upgrade pantry cars with storage facilities. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the catering arm of railways will upgrade the pantry cars with food storage and air conditioning facilities. The measure is aimed at addressing the shortcomings in delivering hygienic and quality food to passengers during train travel.
The redesigning of pantry cars involves setting up induction stoves, storage facility with stainless steel electric warmer and provision of trolleys. Handling of food by hand during train travel will be minimal.
All pantry cars across the railways are proposed to be upgraded at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore to Rs 250 crore in the next three years, according to official documents. “The pantry cars will be supplied food from the base kitchens set up at stations. The cooking activities at pantry cars would be reduced, instead, the upgraded mobile catering units will be used for storage and distribution of quality food,” said a senior official of IRCTC.
According to the proposed plan, subsequent to upgradation of pantry cars, IRCTC will take over the responsibility of maintenance. Though the catering policy of Indian Railways 2010 allowed both zonal railways and IRCTC to look after catering services in trains, the revised catering policy released in February 2017 has transferred responsibility of serving food to IRCTC.
Presently, a few select Rajdhani Express trains have been provided with air conditioned pantry cars with induction stove for cooking. However, pantry cars in regular express trains use gas stove for cooking snacks and meal. To this effect, the railway board has issued orders altering the revenue share of license fee between the railways and IRCTC received from pantry cars.
“The IRCTC will get 85 per cent of revenue as against the existing share of 60 per cent for a period of five years from the date of launching the redesigned pantry car into service,” added the board order issued recently. It may be recalled that the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) in its report in July 2017 lambasted the railways as the food supplied in trains was not fit for human consumption.
Southern Railway registers 34% growth
Chennai; Southern Railway has registered 34 per cent growth in originating freight loading up to October this year compared to the corresponding period last year. A release said that railways registered freight loading of 20.87 million tonnes during the financial year 2018-19 up to October this year while it was 15.57 million tonnes in the corresponding period of 2017-18.
Coal, raw materials for steel plants, iron and steel, food grains, iron ore, container rakes and gypsum were the major contributors for the upswing in freight loading during the current year. Coal constituted 55 per cent of total freight loading during the current year. Out of the total coal loading of 11.51 million tonnes during April-October, 2018, 67 per cent of the consignment was loaded to power houses.