Trains may not serve soups, sandwiches, butter; Railways to cut down on quantity to offer quality food

Indian Railways is now stressing on quality over quantity, which means some of the popular items might be taken off the plate.

Over the past couple of months reports about complaints against the substandard food served on trains have frequently emerged. Moreover, after the government auditor rebuked the railways' catering arm, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for the same last year, Indian Railways has now drawn up measures to fix this problem. First off, Indian Railways is now stressing on quality over quantity, which means some of the popular items might be taken off the plate. The IRCTC has drawn up a proposal to remove popular items like soup, breadsticks, butter and sandwiches off the platter. This change will first reflect on premium trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi. Removing these items will free up 150 g in terms of weight from each plate. Moreover, passengers may be offered vegetarian or non-vegetarian rice combos instead of full meals.

This move has come after a panel of catering experts said that the platter is over-laden. A normal Indian diet comprises 750 g, whereas the meal platters served were of 900 g. Moreover, the full cost of the meal is around Rs 150, while the IRCTC gets only Rs 112 per plate, therefore pushing it towards considerable loss. As mentioned in a report in The Economic Times, a railways official said that maintaining quality has become a problem because of the quantity of these meals. Once these measures are implemented, the quality of food could be maintained.

In its proposal IRCTC has also mentioned that it could cut down on the dal from the 150 g currently served to 100 g. It could also provide dry vegetables and 120 g of gravy with boneless chicken pieces instead of chicken pieces.

The proposal has been sent to the Railway Board and once the new measures are introduced, it will be implemented on 27 Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains initially. Additionally, IRCTC has also proposed the usage of packaged disposable plates instead of plastic trays to maintain hygiene standards.

In 2017, a Comptroller and Auditor General report said that the food served on trains were not upto the standard. Not only were the food less it quantity, the quality was also questionable making it "unsuitable for human consumption". "Deficiencies in respect of quality of food served were noticed. Articles unsuitable for human consumption, contaminated foodstuff, recycled foodstuffs, shelf life expired packaged and bottled items, unauthorized brands of water bottles, etc., were offered for sale on station," the report said.