Food on trains, stations to cost 50-100 per cent more

Food on trains and railway stations will finally be costlier. Prices have gone up by between 50 and 100 per cent for all meals, tea and coffee sold by licenced vendors. The new prices will be effective immediately.

The price of food served on the Rajdhanis and Shatabdis, which is included in the price of the ticket, will be raised next year when fares are likely to go up, and new catering contracts are awarded.

Rail Neer, the packaged drinking water sold on trains and stations, became costlier earlier this month.

The Indian Express reported the impending increase in the price of food on trains and stations on November 2 and December 8. Prices had remained unchanged for nearly a decade, and vendors have repeatedly pleaded that business was not sustainable at 2003 prices. Quality and quantity have suffered, leading to frequent complaints.

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal identified financial reform in the Railways as his priority almost as soon as he took charge. Passenger fares are expected to be next.

A service tax of 8.66 per cent has been built into the new prices, and the ministry has directed all zonal railways to display the rates prominently inside coaches. It is now mandatory to serve seasonal vegetables, which are fresh and cheaper to procure. "We have also directed in the new order that the menu should not be same for lunch and dinner and should be rotated through the days of the week," a senior official said.

Meals and breakfast, tea and coffee, and other items served on mail and express trains will cost between 50 per cent and 90 per cent more.

Tea and coffee will cost Rs 5 and Rs 7 per cup respectively, up from Rs 3 and Rs 4 now. Breakfast will cost Rs 30, up from Rs 17 now. The price of the frugal Janta meal, now Rs 10, has gone up 100 per cent.

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