Rail News: The Indian Railways is planning to remove pantry cars in trains and replacing them with AC-3 tier coaches.
Railways Will Remove Pantry Cars Services from 350 Trains
Indian Railways is contemplating to remove pantry cars from 350 long-distance trains and replace them with additional AC-3 tier coaches, which can generate revenue of Rs. 1,400 Crores per year.
Trains are currently running without pantry cars due to COVID-19 pandemic. The railway is deciding to remove pantry cars in all long-distance trains. All pantry cars are available on a contract basis. Removing the pantry cars would not harm the railways, although thousands of workers would lose their jobs.
Replacement of Pantry Cars Will Generate Revenue of Rs 1,400 Crores!
As railway services are getting back to normal, the Indian Railways is thinking of replacing pantry cars with AC coaches in around 350 trains with the view of maintaining hygiene and generating revenue of Rs. 1,400 Crores. Presently, more than 350 pairs of trains, including mail and express, superfast and premier trains have pantry cars.
Earlier, Indian Railways had removed the bed sheets, blankets, curtains and pillows from AC coaches of long-distance trains to control the spread of the Coronavirus and cut the extra costs. The railway’s board which is running only special trains had also stopped the facility of the pantry car.
Base Kitchen at Major Railway Stations
Industry experts feel that the hygiene in the base kitchens at major railway stations will be maintained perfectly than that in the pantry car. In future, IRCTC will set more base kitchens in many railway stations and provide hot and freshly cooked, hygienic packed food to passengers.
According to Indian Railways, travellers can be provided packaged meal prepared in the base kitchen. Also, e-catering would be opened for the provision of food for passengers.
“Remove Pantry Cars From Trains to Cut Costs”, All India Railway Men’s Federation Told Piyush Goyal.
In a letter to Piyush Goyal, All India Railway Men’s Federation (AIRF) says pantry cars can be replaced with passenger coaches to boost revenues.
Shiv Gopal, secretary of the AIRF, said that the “Food in trains could be supplied by base kitchens which are available at railway stations. The Indian railways do not generate revenue through its pantry car services anyway.”
A ministry of railways said AIRF’s proposal could be examined since the railways are looking at ways to boost its shrinking revenues.
“That’s why the idea to stop linen, pillows, bed sheets, etc. provided by the Indian railways was also considered,” the official said. In this situation, there is an urgent need to cut extra costs and services that are more a liability than revenue generators.
The railways agreed that catering services in trains could easily be provided by e-catering services, base kitchen services, train-side vending, and static catering units at stations en route.
Pantry Car Services in Indian Trains
Pantry car is a different coach on the train which is used for cooking and providing food to the passengers. Pantry services were suspended during COVID-19 times, keeping in mind the passengers’ health concerns.
Meanwhile, Railways has started services of 392 festival special trains from 20 Oct to fulfil the demands of the upcoming festive season.
The festival special trains will be mostly run for destinations such as Patna, Kolkata, Lucknow, Varanasi, among others to cater to the growing demand in the ensuing festive season of Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali and Chhath Puja.
Thousands of Workers Will Lose Their Jobs After Removing the Pantry Cars
Train services were suspended for a few months due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Later it was decided to operate special trains without pantry cars in them. Now the Railways are considering removing the pantry cars in more than 300 trains. It is believed that this decision of Indian Railways will affect at least 10,000 jobs in the railway sector. The revenue of the railways has suffered a lot. On the other hand, now passengers have become used to bringing food from home during the journey. During this time, the Railways is deciding to replace the pantry cars with AC 3-tier coaches.
Usually, 20 to 30 workers work in the pantry car of a train, which includes cooks and waiters. Accordingly, if a decision is taken to remove pantry cars in 300 trains, then about 10,000 jobs will be affected.
The union has also said in its proposal that the people working in the pantry are not railway staff. They work for private contractors. In such a situation, the rail union has no objection to this proposal.
E-catering and Base Kitchens Are Other Options For Passengers
Railways are also considering e-catering services. Apart from this, there is another plan to prepare base kitchens at major railway stations. It is possible that you will not get the facility of pantry cars in trains in the upcoming days. Either you will have to order food in train through e-catering, or you will have to carry food for yourself from home.
According to the report, this proposal has been given by two railway unions. As per the news reports, the ministry of the railways has also accepted this proposal.
Revenue Generation by Railways
The replacement of the pantry cars with AC 3-tier coaches will bring around Rs. 1,400 Crores annual revenue to the Railways. Traffic generation has become very crucial for railways. As compared to the previous year, the traffic revenue of railways has declined by about 43% in the March-August period.
Indian Railways Adapting to the New Norms
Indian Railways has undertaken many projects related to the infrastructure. Last month, the Indian Railways had announced that once passenger trains start running normally, it will implement ‘zero time-tables‘ for 500 trains and around 10,000 stops.
Earlier this month, the railway board had announced that in the upcoming time, trains running at a speed of 130 km/h or above would have only AC coaches. Under this project, the existing coach with 72 berths will be replaced by an AC coach with 83 berths.
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