If Indian Railways would have taken the #tenyearschallenge to showcase its revolution in the catering segment, it would have displayed a high level of diversity and a shift towards the quality, technical modernity of ordering food in train and food distribution channels. The major transition was during the period when passengers were given an option to choose their favourite food from their desired restaurants and enjoy them at their berth. This made it more convenient for the passengers as quality food was made available to them without any effort. This proved to be a boon for the passengers who were travelling in non-pantry trains. They had no option to choose except the food sold at station premises. There was an era when Indian Railways didn’t have a proper pantry system and passengers use to carry the extra baggage of food with them to survive for the entire journey. However, Indian Railways has known and accepted the fact, and with its ongoing effort, it has revolutionized the catering system to a new level for continuous felicitation by passengers.
Switching from Offline to Online Catering System:
Digitization has transformed the world and made it tech-driven. Each and every wing of our country adopted it successfully and moved to new heights. So did the Indian Railways! There are many transformations made after adopting digitization. The catering wing of IRCTC was also digitized and known as e-catering. The efficient use of smartphones and I-phones by the passengers and the upcoming trends made Indian railways think about moving their catering system online. Now passengers can order their food online within a few clicks and it’s the IRCTC that delivers them the food of their choice. With the increasing popularity, IRCTC partnered with many branded food outlets across the nation like Dominos, KFC and PizzaHut. These brands will also deliver their best taste in the train to the passengers.
Recommended Read: How IRCTC E-Catering & Partners are Serving Hygienic Food During Train Journeys
E- Catering in Trains: Modern Approach v/s Traditional Approach
With the advent of the technical era, where everything is available online in minutes, it was decided by the Railways to reform their catering facility and make it online. This will change the traditional approach of ordering food on the trains. What was the traditional approach?
This traditional method dates back to when passengers have to carry extra luggage which was stuffed with food items like puri bhaji, biscuits, snacks, kurkure, rice, roti-sabji and other packaged food. Food for babies like hot milk, cereal meal, was packed separately. This activity was next to a big headache as there was very less option for food availability in train. The situation worsened when there was no availability of food during the journey at night. In this state, the pantry cars were introduced to the trains which were serving breakfast items, lunch and dinner platter. Passengers used to pre-order the meal, i.e. the order for dinner was placed in the afternoon and if it’s a long journey, then the order for breakfast was taken during the dinner time. Either the food was prepared in the train pantry or the total number of orders was informed in advance to the upcoming station having a huge kitchen to cook and complete the order. The cooked food was loaded on the train and served to passengers as per their order. However, there were some disadvantages of this traditional approach.
- Food was unhealthy and sometimes not fit to consume: Not every meal was fit to consume, as it was unhealthy and prepared in an unhygienic condition. This lead to a chain of never-ending food complaints as cases of nausea, stomach disorders started to evolve.
- Overcharging of food prices by the pantry owners: The passengers had limited options for food and they were compelled to pay a higher amount which pantry owners had set for their menu. From here started the case of “overcharging prices of food in Railways” and with no solution.
- No extra meals available: As the number of orders were limited and if a traveller wants an extra meal for his journey, it was never made available to them as there was no food left in the pantry.
- No Invoice/Bills provided: There were no bills provided to the passengers for their food orders.
Every issue or problematic situation has a solution. It was the time for the modern approach of food ordering in the train to enter in Indian Railways.
Modern Approach: The Magic of Websites and Mobile Applications
It’s the modern era, people have landed in a world where every product/service is made available to the customers within a few clicks. Whether it’s a mobile repair, car wash or food order, everything is available ONLINE! Thousands of websites and mobile applications are there to combat your daily and travelling needs. Railways had adopted the same and created magic in diversifying the catering system in trains.
Through the modern approach, the passengers travelling in the train can easily order their food with a wide variety of options available for them. Every passenger, who possesses a valid PNR, can order food in train via five simple steps:
- Visit the official website or download IRCTC mobile application.
- Enter your PNR number and check the list of restaurants en route.
- Order your favourite food and the software will bill them automatically.
- Choose to pay online or offline via Cash on Delivery (COD).
- Enjoy the food at your berth. It will be delivered hot and fresh.
The modern approach of catering in trains had many advantages:
- Simple and Convenient Process: The official website and mobile application of IRCTC is responsive and easy to operate. Passengers can easily use it to order food on the train.
- Online bill available to Customers: Passengers can see their bill online while ordering food in the train or receive it on their registered e-mail id or by SMS.
- Transparency in Prices: No cases of overcharging or undercharging of prices. The price of food is transparent and listed on the website for the customers who decide on their feasibility.
- Healthy and Tasty Food: We have used the term healthy as the food you order is cooked under hygienic conditions and tasty because it’s made in chef-style using freshest ingredients.
- Baby Food and Fast Food: The best part of e-catering in train is the availability of baby food. Hot milk can be arranged for babies at any station. Apart from that many fast food options like burgers, pizza, fried chicken, and soft drinks are also available. This will make the journey appetizing and entertaining.
There’re many food aggregators who have partnered with IRCTC to deliver food in train. RailRestro is one of the food aggregators, ready to deliver fresh food to hungry train passengers. There is a number of dishes available from the flavours of North and South India, Gujarati, Rajasthani and fast food of your choice. The process to order food is the same as on the IRCTC portal. Remember you will receive a steaming hot and fresh food platter during the journey.