New Delhi: Squarely blaming subsidiary
IRCTC for the mess in catering management in trains, Railways
on Friday said there was no other option than taking over the job.
"Complaints over the quality of food served in trains
were increasing and IRCTC was not addressing them properly,"
Chairman of Railway Board Vivek Sahai told reporters here.
Railways announced the new catering policy yesterday,
taking over the catering responsibility from IRCTC.
"Though IRCTC was responsible for food quality, the blame
was coming on Railways directly," he said adding, "So we
decided to take over the responsibility by ourselves."
The new policy has clearly spelt out that Railways shall
progressively take over management of all mobile catering
services including base kitchens, pantry cars and all food
stalls in railway premises.
About the need for bringing a new catering policy, he
said, "A policy was introduced in 2005. But it was felt that
it did not serve the purpose."
At present, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism
Corporation Ltd (IRCTC), a PSU, is responsible for serving
food in about 300 trains including in premier trains like
Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi.
Asked "what is wrong" with IRCTC since it is a Railway
subsidiary, Sahai said, "Their monitoring mechanism was not
proper and which is why passengers were not satisfied with the
quality of food being served on board and in stations."
About increasing complaints, he said there were 2505
complaints in 2007-08. The number rose to 3575 in 2008-09 and
almost doubled in 2009-10.
So how Railways are going to solve the problem?
"We are making the monitoring mechanism more effective.
As per the new policy, zonal railways will be entrusted with
the responsibility of quality control and monitoring," Sahai
About the extra manpower required to manage catering
business, Sahai said, "We are getting 4000 trained staff from
the IRCTC to be used in the job."
With this move, IRCTC will forgo catering business to the
tune of Rs 400 crore. It will now be responsible for selling
e-ticket and i-tickets and running the `Rail Neer` mineral
However, Sahai made it clear that the organisation would
not be wound up. "They will manage the food plazas and
tourism...tourism is a growing industry in the country and
there are excellent scope in it. So, IRCTC should concentrate
on it," he said.
Though IRCTC is being given responsibility to manage
food plazas, food courts and fast food units, the policy has
stipulated that "all such contracts presently being managed by
IRCTC, on expiry of the contract period, will be awarded by
the zonal railways in a phased manner".
IRCTC will not renew any contract required to be handed
over to zonal railways on expiry of the contract. At present,
there are about 65 railway food plazas across the country.
Railways will now formulate operating guidelines to
implement the new catering policy.