New Delhi: The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is going all out to make the Railways a service that is used out of love rather than out of compulsion. In its latest avatar, it has launched a pilot project of a ‘station-based e-catering’ service allowing passengers to order meals as per their choice, which will be delivered at stations from popular private caterers.
In the first phase of the project, all trains passing through 45 specified railway stations, including nine in the east zone, namely Howrah, Sealdah, Guwahati, New Jalpaiguri, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam, Kharagpur and Mughalsarai have been named.
The other stations under this project are namely, New Delhi, Allahabad, Kanpur Central, Lucknow, Varanasi, Chennai Central, Mumbai Central, Delhi, Bangalore city, Madurai, Amritsar, Thiruvananthapuram Central, Chandigarh, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Jaipur, Bilaspur, Anand Vihar, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Ludhiana, Secunderabad, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Chennai Egmore, Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Thrisur, Yasvantpur, Nagpur, Pune, Agra Cantt, Gwalior, Jhansi, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara.
“Station-based e-catering will be only for stations and not on moving trains. The service will allow passengers to either order meals online at www.ecatering.irctc.co.in or by calling 0120-2383892-99/ 1800-1034-139 (toll free) or by sending SMS Meal to 139 with details of PNR and seat number and the meals will be delivered at their berth,” IRCTC group General Manager, East Zone Debashis Chandra told PTI.
Besides food from IRCTC-managed food plazas and fast food units, reputed food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Switz Foods, Only Alibaba, Dominos, Haldiram, Bikanerwala, Nirualas, Sagar Ratna, Pizza Hut which have a wide variety in menu have entered into a tie-up with IRCTC to serve the passengers passing through these stations.
“On receiving the meals, passengers have an option of making payment online or through cash on delivery mode,” Chandra said, adding, the delivery of food would be made through authorised persons. “We have a dedicated call centre for this entire facility which is functioning from 6 AM to 10 PM,” he said.
Talking about cancellation of orders, Chandra said, “They will also have an option to cancel their order two hours before reaching the station where the meals are scheduled to be delivered to them. In cases passengers have made online payment for their order, the amount will be refunded after deducting a cancellation charge.”
On food prices, Chandra said, “Food prices are to be market-driven but we are focused that the food items supplied are hygienically packaged in eco-friendly, bio-degradable take-away packets and usage of plastic for packaging must be minimal if not totally eliminated. In fact, we will conduct regular checks of stations to ensure that meals items are provided to the passengers.”
It was learnt, that alongside e-catering, IRCTC was offering meals from “Jan Ahaar” (budget food), food plazas and fast food units.
This pilot project will be continued till end of March next year after which a review will be conducted on the performance, he sai