Hygiene priority on train menu

The waiters serving you food in trains will no longer be untidy and shabbily dressed.

Clean shaven with neatly cut nails and wearing crisp, ironed uniform with name badges —this is how the waiters will soon look.

Rattled by the increasing number of complaints, the Indian Railways has finally drawn up a plan that involves basic personal hygiene for its cooks and waiters in pantry cars.

Sources said the plan needs to come in effect immediately and railways have been asked to start working towards implementing it at the earliest.

Besides cleanliness and hygiene of those handling food, the new policy by the railway board will allow you to taste regional cuisines, book a meal on the train and takeaway menus.

The draft policy document has created a new post of a manager of a captain in each pantry car who would be in charge of the staff working in the pantry car.

“All the staff, especially waiters, supervisors and manager should be in proper and clean uniforms. The cooks and waiters should cut their nails, a visible badge and will have to be clean shaven. The uniform can be similar in a car and can be decided by the licencees. The presentation of the dishes served has to be of a high quality,” it added.

If an offence or an irregularity is reported five times, there is a clause of termination of contract. “Caterers have suggested that punishment should be on the basis of severity of the offence,” it added.

A back-up team has also been kept ready in case trains are introduced on a short notice or when a contract is terminated. The policy document also calls for redesigning of pantry cars in Duronto trains and repair of defective equipment in all train kitchens.

“Priority has been given by the ministry of railways and the board to improve catering services. The plan has been decided after interactions between the railway minister, the board and the licencees on how to improve services. All railways are expected to follow the policy and send a monthly report to the railway board,’’ said Kamlesh Gupta, additional member (tourism and catering), railway board.

The cost of food may go up a bit. A system of collection and disposal of garbage has also been formulated, warning against disposing in train vestibules or out of windows.

The plan also lays down instructions for the railway police and TTEs to curb unauthorised hawkers and vendors.

Regular passenger feedback and compiling monthly and quarterly reports have been included in the plan.


Spit on trains, clean up your act

MUMBAI: Churchgate station witnessed a different form of vigilantism on Monday afternoon—that of spit and polish. Some commuters who were caught spitting on trains were cornered by activists armed with buckets of water and mops and told to clean up their act.

“It is so unhygienic to travel in such dirty compartments on a daily basis. I have written numerous letters to the authorities—including railway officials as well as some MPs—to take some steps to stop this disgusting habit. But with no solution in sight, I finally decided to drive some sense into the commuters myself,” said activist Vincent Nazareth.

Incidentally, four days ago, Nazareth, with the help of RPF officers at Mumbai Central, nabbed 10 commuters spitting on railway premises. The offenders were arrested and later fined by the Railway Court.

“The errant commuters were kept in lock-up until the rising of the court. These people should understand that the railways spend Rs 1 lakh a month to clean up one train. They need to stop taking railway property for granted,” added Nazareth.

Railway officials said they welcomed such proactive involvement from the public, but added that a joint drive will be even more helpful and successful. “Earlier, we had undertaken a three-day anti-spitting drive which was very successful and many offenders had been punished. Some were also asked to work as volunteers for railways. Volunteers and activists should take the help of the railways while undertaking such drives,” said SS Gupta, chief PRO of Western Railway.


SECR provides 24 hr sanitary staff in moving trains

The South East Central Railways (SECR) have started a round-the-clock sanitary service in moving trains with a view to improve amenity facilities during travelling.

According to a spokesman of the SECR, contrary to the age old practice of clean up operation on arrival of trains at major stations, SECR would provide the round-the-clock sanitary service to passengers in the moving trains coming within its jurisdiction.

Besides one Supervisor for each train, there would be one sweeper for three reserved bodies, who would travel with the passengers and keep the train clean right from its originating station to its destination, the sources said. Initially, this service had been provided in five long-distance trains which include 8237/8238 Bilaspur-Amritsar-Bilaspur Express, 8233-8234 Bilaspur-Indore-Bilaspur Narmada Express, 8239/8240 Bilaspur-Nagpur-Bilaspur Shivnath Express, 2855-2856 Bilaspur-Nagpur Intercity Express, 2851-2852 Bilaspur-Chennai-Bilaspur Superfast Express and 2849-2850 Bilaspur-Pune-Bilaspur superfast Express trains, the spokesman said, adding that it would be extended to other trains in the Zone after a periodical review of its impact.