Catering contracts set for revamp

Rail travellers may soon see a change in food quality as well as tariffs in trains as well as stations.

For, railway catering contracts to provide food valued at about Rs 2,000 crore a year are set for a revamp.

About 5.22 lakh meals are served everyday by caterers in trains and Railways-operated kiosks at stations. Over the next four months, the Ministry will focus on implementing a common bidding format across zones, providing branded food items. It will empanel brands for certain items and make it mandatory for caterers to invest in base kitchens.

The Railway Ministry is also evaluating the option to have labs where food can be tested.

“The aim is to provide good quality, basic hygienic food to passengers,” Railway Minister, Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters. The bidding norms have provisions to prevent a few catering firms from capturing a large share of business.

The Railways will now implement a 2010 catering policy, for which common bidding documents were not yet implemented across zones. The rights will be provided to caterers for five years, extendable by another five years.

TOLL-FREE NUMBER

The next time you have a problem regarding food served in trains, feel free to call a common toll-free number and register your complaint. “We have launched a toll-free number — 1800 111321 — where passengers can call between 7 a.m-10 p.m. This will be tracked on real-time basis and we shall try to take corrective action,” Bansal said.

This will basically streamline the complaint recording system, which had somewhat destabilised after the catering job moved from the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation to Railway zones.

RECEIPT RIGHT

Also, be sure to ask for a receipt in case you are ordering food in mail and express trains, where the food bill is not a part of the ticket fare. The move is expected to prevent over-billing. In trains such as Rajdhanis and Shatabdis, the food bill is included in the fare.

QUALITY VS QUANTITY

“The Ministry will be looking at the quantity of food to be provided. There is no point in flooding passengers with food, which then goes waste. All food served is anyway billed to passengers,” Bansal said.

He added that the tariffs may be revised, but added that the Railways’ job should not be to make money out of catering.

He added that 30 lakh bottled water of a litre each are consumed in the Railways system every day.

Rail Neer plants have a capacity of three lakh bottles a day, with another three lakh slated to be added.

mamuni.das@thehindu.co.in

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/logistics/catering-contracts-set-for-revamp-as-railways-plans-to-provide-quality-food/article4340888.ece?homepage=true&ref=wl_home

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