Jul 27, 2017

Member Traffic Shri Mohd Jamshed briefing on steps taken by IR to improve catering services on IR​​​

Member Traffic Shri Mohd Jamshed briefing on steps taken by IR to improve catering services on IR​​​
• Catering Policy-2005 had mandated that IRCTC shall manage catering services on IR.

• However, this was superseded by Catering Policy-2010, wherein management of catering services was shifted back to Railways. This resulted in a complete reversal of policy and specialised role of catering was passed back to railways from IRCTC (which was supposed to bring in expertise, specialization and quality in catering services). As a result of this, during the period 2010 to 2014, the catering services on IR were adversely impacted.

• In view of the above mentioned developments and in order to upgrade the catering services on IR, Hon’ble Minister for Railways set up a Committee headed by Mr.E.Sridharan in November,2014, to “suggest proper system and procedures to ensure accountability and transparency in commercial decisions, including catering”.

• The Sridharan Committee recommended that “all catering related services should be restored to IRCTC. While giving these functions to IRCTC it should be ensure that there is a revised protocol of understanding for time bound improvements”.

• Another Committee set up by the Hon’ble Minister for Railways, under the chairmanship of Dr.Bibek Debray, in its report of June, 2015 advocated, “encouraging the provision of onboard catering by local service providers/ restaurants through web booking”.
• To develop the modalities and implementation plan of recommendations on these Expert Committees, Hon’ble Minister for Railways approved an in house group at the level of Chief Commercial Managers. This group suggested management of mobile units of IRCTC in a phased manner with investment in infrastructure development like base kitchens and also out-sourcing of activities to professional caterers alongwith proliferation of e-catering services.

• Hon’ble Minister for Railways announced in his budget Speech in February, 2016 as under:

“IRCTC would begin to manage catering services in a phased manager, IRCTC would unbundle catering services by creating distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution”.
“Adding 10 more IRCTC operated, mechanized, sophisticated base kitchens to ensure fresh and hygienic supply of food on trains”.
• In order to comply with the budget announcement, process of formulation of new catering policy was undertaken. Various stake-holders, including zonal railways, were consulted and the draft policy was also put up on the Indian railways officials website for seeking comments and suggestions from public.

• Covering all aspects of catering services and considering views of stake-holders and the public at large, a comprehensive Çatering Policy 2017, was issued by the Hon’ble Minister for Railways on 27th February’2017.

• Action is being taken by IRCTC and concerned Zonal Railways. Implementation plan is being monitored at the level of Additional Member (T&C).

• Observations of CAG on catering services pertain to the period 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16. IR on a proactive basis has taken some ground breaking and fundamental changes through the new Çatering Policy 2017’not only to improve the existing catering but also bring it at par with best public catering outlets in the country and abroad.
New Catering Policy, 2017

New Catering Policy has been issued on 27th February 2017 with the objective to provide quality food to rail passengers by unbundling of catering services on trains. IRCTC has been mandated to carry out the unbundling by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution. In order to upgrade quality of food preparation IRCTC will set up new kitchens and upgrade existing ones.

• E-catering service on IR is managed by IRCTC. Initially, e-catering service was train specific and made available in 1350 trains which did not have services of Pantry car or Train Side Vending. As a major initiative during September 2015, this scheme has been reoriented to make it ‘Station Based E-Catering’ in place of train specific e-catering. In the first phase, a pilot project has been undertaken on 45 major stations and subsequently extended to all ‘A-1’ & ‘A’ category of stations which is presently under implementation. E-catering service is now available on 357 railway stations and the average supply of meals under this scheme is around 6000 meals per day which was around 400 meals per day during Oct’ 2015.
• Mobile App along with four digit (1323) all India Toll Free number has also been launched by IRCTC. Mobile app – ‘Food on Track’ is available on Android and IOS.
• IRCTC has been further advised to re-organise and revamp marketing strategies to popularise e-catering and achieve the target of 1 lakh meals per day which is presently around 5000 to 6000 per day.
• IRCTC has established a call centre and has also operationalized E-catering website www.ecatering.irctc.co.in for this purpose.

Ready to Eat (RTE) Meals: -

• In order to provide more options to passengers in trains RTE meals like Veg biryani, Masala Upma, Poha, Idli Samber etc are being provided to passengers. These RTE meals have long shelf life and are very useful in meeting the exigencies like late running of trains due to fog etc.

Janani Sewa &Children’s menu

• Hon’ble MR in Rail Budget Speech 2016-17 announced as under:-

“75.We would like to mitigate the hardships that mothers undergo while travelling with their infants and, for this purpose, we will pilot availability of
children’s menu items on trains. Further baby foods, hot milk and hot water would be made available on stations and changing boards for babies would be provided in train toilets.

• In compliance with the above Budget Announcement, to mitigate the hardships faced by travelling mothers, Janani Sewa has been introduced on 27.4.2016 to ensure provision of baby food, milk and hot water from nominated catering stalls.

• Further, Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been advised on 20/05/2016 to ensure availability of children menu through e-catering.

• New Delhi, Lucknow Jn., Lucknow, Jaipur, Ajmer, Howrah, Chennai Egmore, Pathankot Jn. and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Nagpur, Pune, Surat, Moradabad etc stations are few of the stations which were pioneers in providing the service over IR

​Optional On Board Catering

• On an in depth analysis over complaints made on catering services provided by Railways it was felt that a ‘Vikalp’ should be given to travelling passengers in terms of option of opting out of mandatory food service in Rajdhani/ Shatabdi trains. The trial of optional catering services to passengers has been started on the following two trains w.e.f 09.06.2016 onwards for journeys to commence on the opening day of ARP.

o Train No. 12954-53 AG Kranti Rajdhani;
o Train No. 12025-26, PUNE – SC Shatabdi Exp.

• Catering services are included by default

• Passengers have to ‘opt out’ from the mandatory food option

• The catering apportionment charges are excluded from the total ticket fare accordingly. This facility is available in all tickets such as tickets from PRS counters, e-ticketing portals of IRCTC and such tickets shall be issued with reduced fare
• This scheme has been started from 09/06/2016 onwards for journeys to commence on the opening day of ARP i.e. 7.10.2016 to 20.11.2016 (for 45 days).

• This opt out option has been recently provided in Tejas Train between Mumbai and Goa

• It has been further decided that Optional on board catering would be rolled on all Mail express trains. This would help in better caliberation of meals required and hence lesser wastage.
Third Party Audit
• All Zonal Railways have a detailed institutionalized mechanism for monitoring of quality and hygiene of catering services through regular, surprise and periodical inspections. If any deficiency is found, corrective actions are taken including penal actions like imposition of fines, termination of contract according to the gravity of the offence. Third Party Audit of catering services are to be conducted at periodic intervals by independent and reputed auditing agencies accredited by NABCB (National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies) as empanelled by the Zonal Railways. The parameters for audit include all aspects of catering services like personal hygiene, infrastructure facilities, cleaning and sanitation, food safety, storage facilities, implementation of regulatory, statutory and safety regulations, quality of presentation etc.

• The third-party audit of the catering service to examine the quality of food, hygiene and cleanliness in the pantry car and base kitchen, which will be carried out alongside the in-house audit.

• Food safety & Hygiene audits are being conducted regularly in 
Base Kitchens, both Departmental & Licensee owned, Food Plaza/Fast Food Units and Pantry Cars of IRCTC managed Trains by Third Party Auditors.

• Third Party Audit of catering services are also to be conducted at periodic intervals by independent and reputed auditing agencies accredited by NABCB (National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies) as empanelled by the zonal railways.

• Empanelment of Food Audit Agencies has been completed on Western Railway.

Zero tolerance Policy
• A policy of zero tolerance towards bad quality of food served to passengers and overcharging is being followed and during last six months, 8 contracts have been terminated. 16 contractors have been blacklisted for breach of contract term in last one year
• A fine of Rs. 4.56 crores has been imposed during Jan to June’17 as compared to Rs. 4.05 crores imposed during 2016, Rs. 2.61 crores in 2015 and Rs. 1.73 crores in 2014.
• Disciplinary action has been taken against 21 railway officials in the last one year.
• More than 40,000 inspections done by railway officials to improve the catering services.
• In yesterday’s incident, in train no 12303 Poorva Express, Licence of the contractor was terminated & the high level enquiry has been ordered.
• As per the direction of MR, 15 days Inspection drive has been launched to inspect catering units/pantry/ base kitchens/ static units across IR.