Pantry cars on Indian Railways trains to be upgraded to international standards! Aiming to improve the quality of food served to passengers on its trains, Indian Railways has decided to completely revamp the pantry cars on long-distance trains. The task has been delegated to IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation), and a circular to this effect has been issued on Tuesday by the Ministry of Railways. According to the circular, IRCTC has proposed to take up the task of upgrading pantry cars and also maintaining them subsequently.
The move assumes importance because till now the maintenance of pantry cars was under the ambit of Indian Railways. According to IRCTC, this created difficulties in maintaining a standard for the food being served. “With the maintenance of pantry cars being handed over to us, we will be able to ensure hygiene standards etc,” an IRCTC official told Financial Express Online.
There are around 350 trains on the Indian Railways network that have pantry cars and over the next few years, all of them will get an upgrade. IRCTC has proposed that the upgrade will be carried out at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore to Rs 250 crore over the next three years. “IRCTC shall redesign, upgrade and maintain the interior of all the redesigned and upgraded pantry cars at their own cost from all perspective including fire safety and overall safety. They shall execute an agreement to this effect with Mechanical Coaching Directorate and shall also take approval of the designed electrical load from the coaching directorate,” the circular states. IRCTC has further proposed a new revenue sharing model of 15:85 between Indian Railways and IRCTC as against the 40:60 mentioned in the catering policy of 2017.
The catering arm of Indian Railways has been focusing on the quality of food in trains, especially after a CAG report in 2017 called the food served on the Indian Railways network unfit for human consumption. A new catering policy 2017 is being implemented across the network with greater emphasis on transparency. IRCTC recently revamped its menu for premium trains such as Rajdhani and Duronto Express – while the quantity of food served was reduced marginally, the catering arm of Indian Railways said the quality of food is being improved. Also, a new artificial intelligence-enabled software in high-definition CCTV cameras is also being used to track how food is prepared at every step in IRCTC kitchens.