Mandatory catering charges made optional in four trains

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New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Seeking to explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional on trains, the railway ministry has decided to put it on trial in four premium trains.

The project will start on a pilot basis for 45 days.

The trial, beginning from June 15, will be conducted to ascertain the cuisine choices of the passengers and provide them with local food choices.

The four premium pairs of trains where the trial is to be conducted are Nizamuddin-Mumbai Central (12953-12954) August Kranti Rajdhani, New Delhi-Patna Rajdhani (12309-12310), Pune-Secunderabad Shatabdi Express (12025-26) and Howrah-Puri Shatabdi Express (12277-12278).

During the trial, catering services will be included in the ticket price by default.

However, passengers would have to specifically opt out from the mandatory food option and catering charges would be excluded from the ticket fare.

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The passengers cannot change this option after the tickets are booked.

A.K. Manocha, chairman and managing Director of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), said it would offer more cuisine choices to the passengers.

“IRCTC will ensure provision of e-catering facility enroute stations of these four trains so that local cuisine are available to the travelling passengers”, Manocha said.

The ministry will consider introducing this facility in other trains based on passenger feedback.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, in his 2016-17 budget speech, had announced that trials would be conducted to explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional on trains.

IRCTC handles the pantry in some Durontos, Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Gatimaan Express and provides e-catering facility in over 1,500 non-pantry car trains.

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