Have A Hearty Meal In Train
Yes, now you can relish a Domino’s Pizza at your train seat. Thanks to the newest initiative taken by the railway ministry, the IRCTC is empowered to collaborate with private food vendors to supply fresh, yummy meals to passengers in trains. It’s just a matter of an SMS or a phone call and food reaches you at the next station.
Earlier, meal service was limited to trains. Now, it is extended to station-based facility. Looking at the astounding success of e-catering pilot project, which received an average of 90 meal orders per day, the railways have threw open IRCTC’s “food on track” service on 45 stations. This move, too, has met with success. Meal orders have doubled and even tripled.
According to records, once, IRCTC received 1000 meal orders in a day! Out of these orders, about 700 orders were bagged by Domino’s Pizza. So, it was truly a “pizza day”!
List of 45 stations that provide e-catering service
Stations that offer “food on track” meal facility are:
Delhi, New Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Mughal Sarai, Anand Vihar, Mumbai Central, Chennai Central, Howrah, Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Kanpur Central, Agra Cantt, Bangalore City, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Madurai, Jaipur, Bhopal, Jhansi, Gwalior, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Vadodara, Surat, Ahmedabad, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai Egmore, Tirupati, Kozhikhode, Emakulam, Vijayawada, Secunderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Kharagpur, Thrisur, Bilaspur, Yasvantpur, Sealdah, New Jalpaiguri, Guwahati, and Thiruvananthapuram Central.
IRCTC’s food partners
The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has roped in big names in the food industry, viz; Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Punjabi Grill, who will handle the street food section, KFC, Bikanerwala, Switz Foods, Sagar Ratna, Only Alibaba, Pizza Hut, Haldiram, Niruala, Foodpanda, and Travel Food Services, who will handle Curry Kitchen, Desi Treat, Copper Chimney, Café Chino, Masala Kitchen, and Biryani Bhai.
This is not the end to the list of food vendors. Efforts are on to collaborate with more such brand names. According to a railway official, one of the benefits of roping in popular food brands is that they attract people instantly. People are already fond of these brands and dine at their joints in daily lives. Once they learn their favorite brands are available for serving their choice meal in train too, they are more likely to place orders.
Before big brands entered the e-catering scene, IRCTC used to deliver hot piping food through its own food plazas, fast food joints, and “Jan Aahar” units placed on stations. The last one is a budgeted food unit, quite popular among travelers of the railway.
How to order
Passengers have three options to order food at their train seat:
- You can log on to the website
- You can call toll free number 1800-1034-139
- You can send an SMS to 139 by typing “MEAL <PNR> <Seat number>”
You must order a couple of hours in advance of the train reaching the station where the food vendor is deployed. You have a choice to cancel the order; but, again, do it two hours in advance.
The e-catering facility is only for passengers with confirmed tickets and those with RAC tickets.
First, luxury trains; now, e-catering services – it seems the Indian railways is ready to paint a new and better face and impress not only domestic travelers, but also international travelers. Meals are affordably priced. Focus is on hygienic packaging of food in bio-degradable, eco-friendly packets. There is minimum use of plastic containers as far as possible. The railways claim to carry regular monitoring of food services on stations.
Looking at the increasing numbers of meal orders per day, it is safe to say that people are accepting online meals in train with an open heart.