Railway Budget may tickle taste buds of passengers

Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhu with Railway Board Chairman, A.K. Mittal (right) and a member of the Board giving final touches to the Railway Budget 2016-17 at Rail Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday.— PHOTO: Shanker Chakravarty  

nion Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu may offer more culinary options for passengers in his budget to be presented on Thursday so that people enjoy a variety of local cuisines during train journeys.

Indian Railways is considering to give greater focus on tie-ups with local vendors for offering such a choice to travellers as part of an attempt to bolster its e-catering business.

“We want to give passengers a variety of choice in terms of local food while travelling in trains and not limit them to the food available in our pantry service. We want to shift our focus on to local vendors rather than going for big food chains ,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.

At present, Indian Railways’ e-catering service, known as ‘Food on Track’, is available on 1,516 trains and at 46 railway stations. Passengers can book food through a host of vendors through IRCTC website or toll-free helpline number 1323 until two hours before the train arrives at the railway station. The facility is available from 6 am-10 pm at present.

More than 70 vendors, including big chains such as KFC, Dominos and e-commerce companies like and food portal FoodPanda have tied up with Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation to provide food on train.

Former Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said that there were many start-up companies that could develop a mobile application for passengers to track the e-catering facility. I have seen a lot of queries from start-up companies that are interested in developing a mobile application for e-catering. If I pass through Rajasthan, why can’t I have sarso ka saag or bajre ki roti at the stations where train stops. Why should I take the same food that I always have from the pantry?” Mr. Kumar had said in a pre-budget discussion.

Railway officials also said that promoting helpline number for e-catering will be another priority area for the Indian Railways as many passengers are unaware about the present scheme.

“It has been observed that people are often not aware about our e-catering service. We will need to promote our helpline service so that passengers know on which stations they can order food through e-catering,” the official said.

Passengers can book food through a host of vendors through IRCTC website or toll-free helpline number