Railway passengers not fond of e-catering food

Railway passengers not fond of e-catering food

Railway officials say they will address the issue after taking passenger feedback

 As per the data provided by the Railway Ministry in Parliament, the number of railway passengers ordering food through online service started by the IRCTC portal is falling.

Regardless of the complaints of unhygienic, tasteless food and exorbitant charges, railway travellers seem to be still fond of food supplied by pantry cars aboard trains rather than food from popular eating joints they could get through e-catering services (online bookings).

The IRCTC, the railways’ public sector undertaking which manages online catering, has tied up with more than 500 popular food chains - including Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Dominos, Haldiram’s and Delhi Durbar - for providing food options to travellers. The online food delivery system is available in over 300 railway stations across the country. As per the data provided by the Railway Ministry in Parliament, the number of railway passengers ordering food through online service started by the IRCTC portal is falling.

When a large number of complaints poured in against catering contractors managing pantry cars, mostly for poor quality and exorbitant charges, the national transporter entrusted Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to start an e-catering service in trains, allowing passengers to book meals through websites as well as through phone and SMS.

However, the online service has failed to attract passengers since it began in September 2015. It accounts for less than one percent of the meals served by the railways.

The railways provide 12 lakh meals every day, only about 7,000 meals on average are provided through e-catering, an official said. When e-catering was launched, the main objective was to increase food options for passengers instead of depending only on pantry car food services. According to the railways, the e-catering service picked up from 400 meals a day in October 2015 to nearly 12,000 meals a day in August 2017. But it has been falling since, with only about 5,000 meals a day booked in December 2017.

Officials in the railway ministry say they are studying the reason for falling public interest in food supplied by e-catering services and will address the issue after taking passenger feedback. They also say there may be many factors for passengers averse to e-catering food including hygine, quality and delay in supplying food. Getting their feedback would help popularise e-catering services, they said.

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