Indian Railways has been and will be a monopoly player in the railways industry. Having said so, since we have only one player it is quite obvious that they will have their own norms and all the customers will have to accept those – whole heartedly or half-heartedly. But, with changes in Government rule, every new person in rule tries to bring in positive changes to the railways systems because by and large this is the most used service in our country.
The latest development that has been introduced on a pilot basis in the India Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) is the system of pre booking your meal from listed restaurants and hotels and getting them delivered at your train seat! Unbelievable?
The IRCTC has added an option of “Food on track” option on their website.
How does the service work?
When you click on the food on track option, you will be directed to the e-catering page of IRCTC. Here the food aggregators who have agreed to supply food on booking basis. All you have to do is punch in your PNR number or station name, and you will get a list of suppliers in those routes. You can select the menu and it will get added in your cart. You can finally checkout and make the payment online.
Once you are booking your meal, you will have to provide your booking details including – date of journey, seat no, train number etc. At your requested time and station, the food will get delivered to you.
Restaurants presently added in the e-catering service
Food joint Dominos take up pre booking for most of the major cities in India. The IRCTC Departmental Fast Food Units and Food Plaza is available to cities including Hyderabad, Nagpur, Chennai, Coimbatore, Jaipur, Aligarh, Patna, Nashik, Surat and few other cities.
KFC also provides this service in New Delhi, Yeshwantpur, Kacheguda and Vishakapatnam. Street Foods by Punjab Grill serves only New Delhi presently. Till date approximately 1500 trains and 45 stations have been added to the list of this e-catering service. If the train name is added to the list, it means that the route that that train covers will have the benefit of this service.
If a food service provider wishes to aggregate its business with the Indian railways, they can approach IRCTC directly and fill up the EOI (Expression Of Interest) form and submit it. All terms and conditions of aggregating catering with IRCTC are mentioned clearly in this form.
Indian Railways is striving to add more routes and stations to this list. Presently they have taken up this service as a project, and depending on its success, it is to be launched in full swing.