Good news for passengers travelling by train. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has launched e-catering service, also known as “Food on Track”, in 1,516 trains and 45 stations spread all across the country. The idea is to help the passengers to order food of their choice from leading food chain companies in the country in trains and on stations. Initially, the e-catering service started with 28 trains, which don’t have pantry car facilities. The proposal in the Railway Budget 2015-16 has further made this service available to more than 1500 trains now, catering to 45 major stations.
Some major stations:
New Delhi, Old Delhi, Anand Vihar, Nizamuddin, Mumbai Central, Pune, Howrah, Sealdah, Bhubaneshwar, Visakhapatnam, Guwahati, New Jalpaiguri, Mugalsarai, Patna, Kanpur Central, Jaipur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kharagpur, Bilaspur, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Chandigarh, Amritsar etc. In these stations, station-based e-catering service is provided.
Major features of “Food on Track”
- Train Passengers passing through the above-mentioned stations can order their food from leading private caterers and food chain companies on the station. These trains may or may not have pantry car facilities.
- Passengers can order any meal of their choice.
- Train passengers can get the meal delivered at their seats as per their choice of the station or train.
- Initially the orders can be placed only at the stations and not on moving trains.
- Apart from the private caterers, IRCTC has made provision of “Jan Ahaar” in which budget food will also be supplied through its food plazas and fast food units.
How to place an order or cancel an order?
- You can pre-order your meal online at www.ecatering.irctc.co.in.
- You can make a call to 0120-2383892-99 to place an order.
- There is another toll-free number at 1800-1034-139.
- Once a call is made, the passenger will be provided with the list of stations, vendors and menu from which he has to choose his meal.
- Once the booking is made, a one-time password (OTP) will be sent to the registered mobile number of the passenger.
- When the food will be delivered at the seat, the vendor will ask for the OTP.
- Food will be served between 6 am and 10 pm only.
- A minimum order of Rs 60 has to be placed.
- The order should be placed at least 2 hours before arrival at the selected station.
- In case of non-delivery of food, the passenger can call on 1800-1034-139 (toll-free), 0120-4383892-99 (toll).
- You can also place an order through an SMS to 139 by mentioning your PNR and seat number.
- You can also cancel your order 2 hours before reaching the station where you want your meal to be delivered.
- Payment can either be made online or on delivery.
- If the food is not delivered due to some reasons such as late running of trains or other reasons, full refund shall be made after deducting Rs 20.
Food catering in trains earlier
Let us now get back to the traditional way of food catering in trains. The available options were very limited. Snack and soft drinks sellers were found on running trains. At the stations there were the food kiosks. There were pantry car services in trains serving very limited and fixed items like coffee, tea, snacks, and soft drinks, bread and omelets or Idli-vada/ upma for breakfast, standard vegetarian or non-vegetarian thali for lunch and dinner and in some trains like Rajdhani continental dishes were served.
The basic advantage of this was that the meals were very reasonably priced, catering to all classes of passengers. But there were many disadvantages such as limited choice, not very tasty and the worst was the hygiene factor.
Advantages of e-catering in trains
- With the introduction of e-catering services, it will be very convenient for passengers to undertake smoothly a long journey by trains.
- A range of good quality and hygienic food is available for rail passengers, with the convenience of pre-ordering and delivery at seat and at stations.
- Regular checks and inspection will be conducted for proper quality, quantity, rates, hygiene and others.
Major food chains tied up with IRCTC
In this endeavour, the IRCTC has tied up with some well-known vendors and food caterers. Some of these are McDonald’s, KFC, Only Alibaba, Switz Foods, Dominos, Nirualas, Sagar Ratna, Haldiram, Bikanerwala, Pizza Hut, Copper Chimney, Cafe Chino, Masala Chicken, Punjab Grill and several others.
This initiative of e-catering or “Food on track” undertaken by IRCTC will definitely change the face of railway catering.