Teams to inspect food at railway stations

LUDHIANA: Immediately after laying down its own food policy, the railways have started bringing changes in the catering system as they have decided to constitute special teams for conducting regular checks on vendors to see quality of food being served. These teams will conduct inspections at all the major stations, including Jammu, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana at regular intervals.

The railways had stripped the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) of handling the catering at the platforms as well as in trains because there was no check on the quality of the food being served. Therefore, it had become imperative for the railways to keep a check over eatables being served to the commuters.

Officials said though the railway board had taken over the catering policy, stalls that were running under the IRCTC would continue according to the previous agreement but they would also have to bring reforms in their running. The teams had been constituted where an official of assistant commercial manager (ACM)-level would be the in-charge while rest of the commercial employees would be working according to his directions.

Along with this the officials had also decided to impose a ban on keeping things on the platforms that created hindrance to the commuters. The vendors kept several things on the platforms covering too much space and the commuters hardly got any space to walk properly.

While giving the information, divisional traffic manager Parminder Singh said that regular checking would be conducted at the vendor stalls so that food quality could be maintained.

As per the new catering policy, the railway authorities had decided to once again start the use of LPG at the railway platform that had been banned by IRCTC. In the food, too, the officials were going to start serve Channa Puri and an assortment of Punjabi dishes that had been missing from the menu.

Rly panel for menu change in trains

MUMBAI: The aroma during the great Indian train journey may never be the same again.

The Passengers’ Services Committee met in Hajipur last Monday to draft a new catering policy for long-distance trains. Among the recommendations it has made is doing away with the dals and gravy dishes and replacing them with “drier foods” that are less messy to prepare, serve and eat.

The recommendations will be put forward to the Railway Board next week and senior officials say the PSC’s suggestions are usually followed when it comes to issues affecting passengers directly. PSC members have travelled long-distance for the past few months and seen for themselves how gravy and train don’t go together.

“Both servers and passengers have to do a constant balancing act. People can stay without gravy dishes and dals for a day or two. And passengers can carry their own food if this does not suit them,” an official said.

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee had announced in her budget speech that the catering policy would be reviewed and a new one would be announced soon.

PSC insiders also told TOI that cooking in pantry cars would also be banned. “Like on flights, only heating of food should be allowed. Meals will be cooked at base kitchens and loaded airline style and heated and served,” one of them said, adding newer drier food options like noodles could be introduced.

PSC chairman Derek O’ Brien told TOI that the new policy would also look to expanding the base of private licensees to ensure that the cartel made up of only three or four vendors was busted.