The Telegraph
Friday , August 8 , 2014
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Ready-to-eat meal excites passengers

Patna, Aug. 7: Trains in the state would soon have the facilities of ready-to-eat meals on wheels with an aim to provide hygienic and improved food quality to passengers.

As a precursor to the launch, a successful trial was conducted on August Kranti Rajdhani Express (12954) between Hazrat Nizamuddin and Mumbai Central Train on Tuesday.

This initiative was part of the railway budget presented by minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda last month.

It is being jointly executed by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Haldiram’s. On the first day’s trial, 550 passengers were served the pre-cooked food.

Preferring anonymity, senior officials of IRCTC, New Delhi, told The Telegraph: “The railways have given us (IRCTC and Haldiram’s) responsibility to go ahead with the initiative and a successful trial was conducted in the August Kranti Express by serving rice, dal and one paneer curry to 550 passengers. The response was amazing. The trial would be carried out in some other trains as well for next one week.”

The steps have been taken to get away with the instances and complaint registered by passengers regarding unhygienic food and also cases of finding cockroaches and lizards in the meal. Recently, railways had cracked the whip by slapping fines totalling Rs 11.50 lakh on nine caterers for serving “bad quality” food in trains.

About the very concept of ready-to-eat meal, the IRCTC official added: “Defence Research and Development Organisation has developed retort technology by which the food is packed in vacuum process with high temperature and high pressure. Through this technology, the pre-cooked food does get not spoiled even for one year and best thing that there would not be any preservative added.”

Passengers were not charged during the trial and senior officials of IRCTC and Haldiram’s were also travelling by the train.

Indian Railways had already decided stop the catering service of IRCTC on the Rajdhanis and tenders have been floated to appoint a fresh agency for the job.

About when Bihar trains would be able to get the service of ready-to-eat meals, the official said: “It will take at least three months. However, trial runs would be conducted in Bihar-bound Rajdhanis this month only. Apart from vegetarian food, even the non-vegetarian food would also be served and there would not be much difference in the price from the existing mea.”

When the facilities would be fully implemented, passengers would be able enjoy several pre-cooked food which include chicken shreds, stuffed mutton rolls, chicken biscuits, mutton vegetable korma and dried mutton in non-vegetarian. On the other hand, in the vegetarian menu it would include spiced aaloo (potato) parathas, preserved chapatti, rice, fruit bar, compressed cereal bar, canned upma and many more.