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Stale food on special train

More than 15 passengers on a Bangalore-Howrah summer special train fell ill allegedly after having dinner served by the railway catering service.

The train, which had three-tier and two-tier AC coaches apart from a pantry car, reached Howrah station around 5pm on Thursday.

The passengers alleged that the railway authorities initially refused to accept a formal complaint. The aggrieved lot wrote their complaint in the logbook of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the railway subsidiary that handles catering and normally hires private contractors for the service.

“Several passengers in our compartment complained of nausea and stomach pain after eating food provided by the railways. An elderly person vomited minutes after dinner,” alleged Joydip Kanjilal of Ballygunge who was on B2, an AC three-tier coach.

The passengers said dinner was served around 10pm, a little before the train pulled into Vijayawada station.

“The food was smelly and the rotis were hard. We tried eating the food since it was pretty late… but gave up after a few morsels,” said Amitava Das, another B2 passenger.

Das said everyone in the compartment started complaining about the food and some even threw up.

“We called the pantry attendant and asked for the manager but none came. The ticket examiner suggested that we buy food at the Vijayawada Junction.”

Kanjilal said most of the sick passengers got off at Bhubaneswar station, the stop before Howrah.

“They were very ill and so they got down in Odisha. We somehow managed to continue our journey.”

Senior officials of South Eastern Railway promised strict action against the food contractors. “We have seized food packets for lab tests. The IRCTC contractor has been served a showcause notice,” an official said.

The train is one of the summer specials that has been operating since April 23. Its last journey is on July 2.