IRCTC is subsidiary of the Indian railways well known for their IRCTC e-catering based railway catering services. IRCTC is also offering online ticketing operations, catering and tourism of the Indian railways.
When we were children, one of the biggest attractions of travelling in trains used to be the local snacks at various stations. Vendors would board the train and we would pester elders for the tasty local flavors. Also, mothers and grandmothers and aunts had it tough with meals to be prepared for the long train journeys.
With trains going AC and other regulations, vendors with local platters are not a regular sight. With a delicious new service from IRCTC, snacking and dining in the train has gone a complete overhaul. Considering the changes in the travel patterns and expectations of the passengers, this service seems to be a necessary addition in the bouquet of IRCTC services. Welcome to the new age train travel with e catering service!
- The Preparation –
The pantry cars attached to the trains had many problems. Passengers never stopped to complain about the quality of the food, the untimeliness of the service and compared to the private services, this really was a hapless situation.
IRCTC has always been consistent with handling consumer grievances and providing with innovative solutions. Last year, the management came up with a brilliant solution to this unsavoury situation: e catering with private service providers. The model is, simply put, like this:
IRCTC would not handle the catering services on its own. Rather, the various zones of the railways will handle them. The tender will be given to private service providers, who, in turn, will deliver the catering requirements to various stations according to consumers’ choice.
- The First Stage –
IRCTC ran the e-catering service on a trial basis last year with only six trains. The Delhi-Amritsar trains had the privilege of the trial. At first, the orders were delivered as Cash on Delivery mode. The service was launched on September 25, last year. When the Ministry of Railway decided on the e-catering facility, it was strictly on a trial basis. But the overwhelming response from the passengers has taken the decision to be implemented on pan India basis.
- The Benefit –
With this effective idea, IRCTC is planning to bring professional catering service on the move. Most private service providers are offering multi cuisine platters and snacking choices. This way, the quality and time aspects of eatables are expected to improve. IRCTC is hopeful that as more private service providers come into e-catering business, consumers are going to have more options and competitive prices to choose from.
IRCTC is looking forward to convert the pantry cars into passenger coaches.
- The Meal Time Schedule –
The delivery schedule for any e-catering service is simple and effective. As a train starts from a station, the morning orders are delivered from the station itself. As the train approaches another station at about noon, the lunch orders will be delivered in that station. And the same will be followed for tiffin and dinner.
This effectively cuts out delivery time and management hazards. Passengers also get to enjoy freshly prepared meals, delivered right on time. The service providers generally team up with restaurants in various cities and stops to deliver the orders. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian, both kinds are available for the travellers.
- The Recipe of Travel Meals –
The process from the passengers’ side is also quite simple. Just as the name of the service suggests, it is basically a computerized system. The passenger has to book a meal through SMS or phone call with the PNR number of the train. The order should be booked with the name as it appears on the railway registration charts.
The website has the extensive menu and particulars for the passengers. Credit card service is also acknowledged in some cases.
- A Happy Extension for Economy Traveling –
Along with improving the on board quality services, IRCTC is also taking the right steps in serving the economy passengers with quality food. Jan Aahar Cafeterias are the result of this noble initiative taken by the concern. These air-conditioned cafeterias are, generally, located in the ticketed areas of the platform offering local items all priced reasonably low.
With the proper planning and a sincere attempt to the improve passenger experience, IRCTC and the India Railways are bringing some very unique and appreciated changes in the train travelling system. With these services, Indian Railways are ready to become the most favored government run transport system in the world.