New Delhi: The Indian Railways has been working on several projects to compete with services offered by airlines in India. From modernising trains and stations to easing the ticket-booking process, the railways has launched a slew of projects to attract more customers. Now, a report has suggested that the railways will also offer airline-like meals on select trains. This is part of a plan to reform its catering services, thus making the menu balanced. Other than that, artificial intelligence and CCTV cameras would be used to keep a tab on food preparation in the pantry.
According to Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, the better quality food service would be initiated from July, initially on premium trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi, and Duronto as an experiment, and would be extended to other trains later on. Lohani suggested that the menu would be simple but would be in form of a combo meal, comprising two or three items, similar to what is served by airlines. “It will be high in quality and taste,” he suggested.
He said the steps have been taken in light of low-quality food served on railways at present, hinting that these food items lack hygienic value. The same has been affirmed by a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a report where he had termed food served from trains as “unfit for human consumption”.
It may be noted that the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC), which is generally responsible for managing catering services on trains, would instruct managers and supervisors in the trains for sudden and surprise checks, including the premium trains, suggested Lohani. According to the PTI report, the Indian Railways serves at least 12 lakh meals per day, out of which 10 lakh is served on trains.
The report added that the IRCTC is all set to take charge of 68 modern-base kitchens across several locations in the country. It noted that all these modern kitchens would be ready by the December in 2019. These, too, would accompany CCTC cameras for centralised monitoring. An artificial intelligence (AI) module is also being installed at these base kitchens, as per the report.
Lohani indicated that these high-end kitchens would have separate cooking areas for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. It has come to light that the base kitchen in New Delhi would be preparing at least 20,000 to 25,000 meals a day, he added. To maintain hygiene, these modernised kitchens would be cleaned on a daily basis.