CHENNAI: Passengers travelling in Brindavan Express and Guruvayur Express have been starved of food and beverages these days as the railways delinked the pantry car recently.Particularly, elderly passengers, ulcer and diabetic patients and those accompanying children for long journeys from Chennai to Bengaluru and Madurai, which take more than five to eight hours, were put to an ordeal for want of food. Brindavan Express leaves Chennai Central at 7.50 am and reaches Bengaluru at 2 pm. The train has been witnessing highest passenger demand throughout the year. In particular, between Friday and Monday, and during festival seasons, every bit of train space including reserved coaches gets occupied by passengers in both directions.
To accommodate more passengers, the Southern Railway replaced the pantry car with additional unreserved coaches increasing the total number of coaches to 24, the highest number of coaches permitted for any train in the Indian railways.Since then, passengers have been forced to depend on food sold by unauthorised vendors at stations, which is mostly unpalatable and poor in quality.“I boarded the train at 7.40 am at Chennai. Though a few vendors sold coffee in the train, I could not get tea. From 12 pm, we tried to buy rice food but could not get anything until we reach Bengaluru. My children and I were starved of food for more than three hours,” said Radhakrishnan of Whitefield, Bengaluru. His complaint over the catering services has been registered with the railways.
The condition of passengers who travel in Guruvayur Express running from Chennai Egmore to Guruvayur is no different. Due to absence of catering service, they are forced to travel with empty stomach as they have no access to proper food between 12 pm and 2 pm.S Merlin of Kollam who recently travelled in Guruvayur Express said the train starts at 8.15 am at Egmore and reaches Madurai around 4.30 pm. “We dont have any food en route and I got only biscuits and water, that too, at higher prices,” she said.
Though the Southern Railway is yet to authorise the IRCTC to appoint vendors for selling snacks and food, a few unauthorised vendors have been selling coffee, snacks and water bottles in the trains.When contacted, an official said pantry car cannot be added to the Brindavan and Guruvayur Expresses as both trains are operated with 24 coaches. “Measures are being taken to introduce on-board catering in the trains, where food and other beverages can be loaded in the en-route stations. The issues will be addressed soon,” said an official.