New Delhi: The Union Minister of Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal today interacted with Food and Beverages Industries Players through video conferencing while fasting from Thane. The meeting was attended by key players from the Food & Beverage industry viz. Hindustan Unilever Limited, Café Coffee Day, Nestle, Travel Food Services, MoM, Bikanerwala, Taj SATS, R.K. Associates, Arenco Catering, Jubliant Food Services, Punjabi Ghasitaram Halwai (P) Ltd., CAFS, etc. The meeting was also attended by Senior officials from Ministry of Railways & IRCTC.
The meeting was held with the objectives to bring on board important suggestions issues, problems faced by key industrial players of F&B industry who are important stake holders in delivery of catering services on Indian Railways.
Following items were raised in the meeting with key industrial players of F&B industry:-
Issue of rate of Ala-carte and standard items served on mobile catering having not increased since 2012.
Rates should be increased automatically with time by indexing it with WPI/CPI. Market driven prices should be given by Railways with periodical revision.
Non increase in Rates of food items over years has impacted quality of mobile catering services.
Adequate arrangement of catering services on non – pantry trains.
Improvement in Pantry cars and its cleanliness issues.
Issues of failure of equipments on-board pantry car and non-redressal and to establish a system for their grievances for timely rectification of the same.
Members have requested for limiting the entire A-la-carte menu and only bouquet of catering products to just 8 – 12 meals/items and the same be permitted for sale. This will help in reducing overcharging and provide better quality of service.
Members have suggested that all catering items should be priced in multiples of 5 which will aid the passengers and reduce instances of overcharging. Eradication of unauthorized hawking on station and in trains.
To follow the airline model having less variety but superior quality.
Introduction of hot food vending machines on Platforms and trains.
Ready-to-Eat meal & E-Catering should be proliferated.
Minister of Railways touched upon following issues in this freewheeling discussion and dialogue with the players of F&B industry:-
There was a great stress and emphasis by Minister of Railways to warn and discourage the existing Contractors of Catering Services from indulging in corrupt practices or in harassment of customers. He categorically stated that only approved items with the stated quantity and prices as approved in the policy should be served to the customers.
Appreciating the demands raised by the licensees/contractors, Minister of Railways issued instructions for comprehensive improvement and sprucing up the infrastructure/equipments of the Pantry car and monitoring the same intensively with the use of mobile application.
Licensee, Railway and IRCTC are important stakeholders in this endeavor to deliver catering services to bonafide passengers and hence, they should sit together and have a free and frank discourse so as to sort out all the problems and gaps in catering service delivery currently faced by Indian Railways.
The Terms and Conditions of existing Contracts should be studied threadbare and solutions related to issues of quality, infrastructure and revision of rates should be found out within that framework so as to move on a sustainable paradigm of catering services.
Railway is at the forefront in its service to poor & middle classes population and there should be absolutely no compromise on the quality of services rendered by catering contractors. In this context, Minister of Railways stressed that all the errant contractors who compromise of quality and indulge in corrupt practices should be shown the door and railway should frame an “Exit Policy” for the same.
All the stakeholders in the delivery of catering services should endeavour in reduction of catering complaints of the passengers and to bring about a “Wow” experience.
All the waiters/service delivery agents who are at the cutting edge should be counselled and warned against the practice of soliciting tips. If they are found guilty of the same, they will not only be de-boarded but also blacklisted and booked under relevant provisions of law.
There was an underline focus to drive home the point that all the caterers/licensees should issue bills/proper receipts and for this POS machines should be proliferated in a big way for both mobile and static catering units over Indian Railways.
In order to bring the catering services over Indian Railways in sync with the global best practices, Ready-to-Eat (RTE) meals should be proliferated over Indian Railways in a big way and the long list of number of items served on board trains should be rationalized and standardized.