IRCTC's e-catering service receives lukewarm response

IRCTC's e-catering service receives lukewarm response

 The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) e-catering service, that allows passengers to order from a variety of cuisine options, has received a lukewarm response.

Many passengers say the service is limited to a few trains and the lack of connectivity onboard is hindering the ordering process. “I booked my tickets directly from the railways and when I boarded the train I got to know about this service. The caterer on the train told me to contact the toll-free number on the IRCTC website. But in a moving train neither do phone networks function nor does the Internet. The service should be made available to all,” said Kiran Kumar, a passenger.

To avail themselves of the service, passengers have to call a toll-free number, send an SMS, or log on to the IRCTC website. The food will be delivered to passengers at their train seats. Naintara K, another passenger, said the service was available only to those who book tickets online from the IRCTC website and not otherwise. This service also has very few takers and after two months of its launching, the IRCTC has received only 200 orders.

“Three months ago, we booked tickets to Delhi from Bengaluru. However, because the IRCTC launched this service only around two months ago, I was not able to order food for my family en route through the website because the server was not accepting the PNR number,” she said.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Ramesh Balakrishnan, AGM, IRCTC, admitted that the service had received a lukewarm response. “This is because the service is new. We are in the process of making this facility available to tier-2 cities across the country. In Karnataka, it will be available for passengers travelling across Gataprabha, Davangere, Tumakuru, Mysuru, Hosur, Birur, Bangarpet, Jolarpet, Hubballi and Arsikere. Talks are also on to tie up with fine dining restaurants and other local restaurants. We want to tap the local market and eliminate pantry cars from trains because carrying cylinders and cooking food in moving trains is dangerous. The feedback obtained from passengers is also being incorporated,” he added.

At present, the IRCTC is providing this service in select tier-1 cities such as Bengaluru, Yeshwantpur, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Chandigarh, Kerala, Thiruvanathapuram, Tirupati, Ernakulam, Jhansi and Nagpur. The service is also available on 1,513 trains across the country, of which, 75 fall under the South Western Railway division.

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