Get ready to shell out more for good train food

After the hike in rail fares earlier this month, get ready to shell out more for quality rail food, especially on trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto.

A slew of initiatives has been undertaken by the new railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal for improving the quality of food served on-board the trains are underway which will lead to upward revision of food prices, officials in the railway ministry said.

In order to enforce strict quality control and safety standard for food served on-board trains, rail minister Bansal has given instructions for setting up over one dozen food labs at key stations across the country.

Also, the new rail minister plans to do away with the departmental catering in trains, specially the elite trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto to being with. This will make way for private caterers under an amended rail catering policy.

An announcement to this effect may be made during the maiden railway budget speech of Bansal scheduled for next month, sources in rail bhawan said.

Speaking to FE, Pansal said: "We will be setting up food labs so that there can be a check on quality of food served by railway caterers." According to the railway minister, the proposed amendment to the catering policy will include giving licenses to new caterers by May. Also, the licenses of trains where IRCTC is catering will be given to private contractors. "We plan to do away with departmental catering in trains but it won't be done immediately," Bansal said.

These steps are on the anvil after a Bansal had ordered a review of the functioning of railway catering and food served in trains.

Railway earns a revenue of around R2,000 crore by selling 5,22,000 organizational meals, for which receipt is given to a customer, in a day. The national transporter, in 2010-11, made a loss of rs 54 crore by selling subsidised food in trains.

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