Delectable food still a far cry for railway passengers

PATNA: (TOI)While the railways is focusing more on improving food quality on running trains, general refrain of passengers is that they are still being served poor quality meals on premier trains originating from different stations under East Central Railway (ECR) jurisdiction in Bihar. Railways has not revised its menu for long distance trains, such as Patna-New Delhi Rajdhani Express and Patna-New Delhi Sampoorna Kranti Express, sources said.

Passengers hardly find quality of pulse, rice, vegetables, soup, cutlets and non-vegetarian meals delectable on Rajdhani Express. “Railways is charging flexi fares in the Rajdhani Express these days. At least meals served to elite class of passengers must be fresh and of good quality,” said an aggrieved passenger, adding that meals served on other Rajdhani Express trains are good in taste.

According to an IRCTC official, railways has set up a centralised catering monitoring cell (CCMC) in New Delhi with a view to keeping a tab on food quality served to passengers on running trains. “A toll free number, 1800 111 321, has also been started by railways for registering complaints in case of passengers’ grievances,” he said, adding the cell has been getting passengers’ complaints and suggestions every day.

According to sources, railways has introduced a defined quality assurance programme under which passengers are to give a feedback opinion about the quality of meals served to them on running trains. An interactive voice recording system (IVRS) has also been introduced in select trains to record passengers’ opinion about the food quality being served to them on running trains, sources said, adding this system is not strictly followed in most of the trains running from Bihar.

Reacting to poor quality meals being served to passengers on trains, a Railway Board official said, “Railways had introduced a third party audit of catering services to maintain transparency in its functioning. This practice was made mandatory in every zone, including ECR. The basic purpose of introducing this system was to maintain quality and hygiene in supply of meals and breakfast to passengers either on running trains or on railway platforms,” he said.

A railway board official admitted that several cases were detected about sub-standard food served to passengers on running trains in different zones last year. “Railways imposed fines on the agency concerned in about 52 cases of complaints,” he said.

 

According to sources, railways is also planning to introduce air-conditioned pantry cars in all important zones on the pattern of Rajdhani Express to ensure better food quality. Railways is keen to abolish gas cylinder cooking system permanently from pantry cars, sources said.

 

Meanwhile, quality of meals being served to passengers under e-catering services has also drawn flaks from passengers. Most of the complaints are about stale food supply being supplied to passengers under e-catering services, sources said.

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