Indian Railways has prepared a detailed policy for e-catering passengers of all trains at railway stations. Earlier it was offered only on about 1,500 trains which did not have pantry cars. Passengers could pre-book their food offered by select vendors through the portal ecatering.irctc.co.in. They got their chosen food delivered at their seats when the trains reached a designated station.
Now the facility has been extended to 45 stations including Chennai Central, Egmore and Madurai selected by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for a pilot project till April 2016.
Sources said the suggestions to introduce station-based e-catering came from the Southern Zone of IRCTC. This is part of the Railways plan to ensure that passengers have wide options and aren’t stuck with food in train pantries.
Reputed private brands offering traditional as well as fast food at market rates would be chosen as vendors for supplying the food, the policy document indicated.
As in e-catering for trains, the bookings must be made at the website, which would soon show the drop-down menu. The food would be delivered at their seats. Rest of the steps of booking, delivery, billing, etc would remain the same as earlier.
The policy circular hasn’t indicated if the vendors would be present inside the station or get food from outside. A railway official said that hosting third party vendors – reputed fast food vendors or ice-cream brands with potential for brisk sale – inside stations, especially Chennai Central and Egmore, would be difficult because of lack of space.