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Railway catering staff told not to seek tips, Piyush Goyal sets 48-hour deadline

After Goyal’s orders and the ministry’s directive, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has promptly contacted its catering contractors to convey an ultimatum. Violation will invite heavy penalty.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Updated: September 10, 2017 9:59 am
railways, indian railways, Railway catering, railway food, Piyush Goyal, Railway tips, IRCTC, IRCTC tips, India news, Indian Express news Piyush Goyal’s first major action. (File)

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal this week ordered that asking for tips from rail passengers and overcharging for food be stopped within 48 hours. Accordingly, letters have gone out to all zonal railway units across the country, asking them to ensure that the practice is stopped with immediate effect.

While Railways has tried to tackle the problem of overcharging by the catering staff in the past, a strict deadline is a first. The issue of tips, however, has never before figured in policy intervention beyond advising catering staff to not ask for tips and passengers to not encourage it.

After Goyal’s orders and the ministry’s directive, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has promptly contacted its catering contractors to convey an ultimatum. Violation will invite heavy penalty.

From Monday, Railways’ catering inspectors will fan out across trains to check if the practices are still prevalent. Social media platforms will be monitored to look out for passengers complaining either of overcharging or about waiters asking for tips.

The “bakshish (tips)” has been a legacy of the Rajdhani Express culture, which, in turn, is a practice from the Raj era, when appreciation was doled out to lower staff for satisfactory service. However, over time, asking for tips from passengers at the end of the journey, especially in trains where the price of meals is built into the fare, has become a part of the deal.

WATCH Rajdhani waiters asking for tip

While some trains carry stickers to sensitise passengers to not tip, pantry staff invariably appear with a tray at the end of the journey asking for a tip. In 2015-16, a Union minister travelling on a Rajdhani had clicked a picture of a catering staff asking for tips and sent it to former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Overcharging is a more serious menace, one that Railways policymakers have been trying to address without success. Last year, an internal note prepared by the ministry as a prelude to the new catering policy said overcharging formed the single biggest chunk of complaints from passengers. Typically, passengers are not made aware of the actual rates and are overcharged by the private catering contractor. In its latest audit, the Comptroller and Auditor General has indicated that overcharging had become central to the financial model of most private catering contractors in the Railways.

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  1. S
    Shib Kumar Gorai
    Sep 12, 2017 at 12:20 pm
    We hope Piyush Goal will at last improve and overhaul Indian Railways so that we can be proud to travel in trains. Seeing his past record as power minister we have much expectations.
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      Anjeet
      Sep 12, 2017 at 12:22 am
      What stop tip.. Now I am travelling from HOWRAH to Chennai central from HOWRAH chennai mail now it will reach next 5 hours to Chennai.. Today they came for tip... It is began passion for that.
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        V K Kashyap
        Sep 11, 2017 at 11:00 pm
        Luggage keeping is a serious problem.passenger boarding train enroute found that his space for luggage is already pack.advise is needed to print a message on ticket.keep your luggage below your seat only. I am a senior citizen .I am alloeted lower berth.but space below my berth is found already occupied by other passenger's luggage .if he is requested to keep luggage below his seat,he create a dispute.kindly do the needful to avoid dispute among the passengers. I will be very greatful to you if this problem is shorted out soon. Your sincerly VK Kaashyap
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          Animesh Khandker
          Sep 11, 2017 at 10:08 pm
          Overcharging passengers is indeed a menace. Not only the food catering staff but the other vendors are also into it. For years, I was a professional traveller and travelled frequently on the TAJ EXPRESS (Delhi to Agra) the newspaper vendor always sold the newspaper for 10 (printed price 2.5) - on warning him against the practice, he openly laughed at me and clearly said that he has to forward a share to a number of people and that none of the complaints would do any harm to him. PORTERS at the railway station also demand a fortune (not 5 or 10 more than their prescribed charges but at least thrice or four times) - hope, the honourable minister would try and address this issue as well. I'm sure there exist a number of platforms where a complaint can be lodged but are they practically in working condition ? Is there a reasonably quick turnaround time by the concerned authorities given the fact that we all are equipped with IT ? All the best!
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            vineet kumar chopra
            Sep 11, 2017 at 10:06 pm
            The private vendors like MEAL ON WHEELS the food they not hygenic andnot even tasty they overcharge by their pentry booys like Rs 8 cup of tea they charge Rs10 and not fill the cup iin proper qquan y the fresca limewater is serving in rajdhani and shatabdi that is not mark of quality they should serve fruit juice
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