THE INDIAN Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) plans to hire a fresh contractor to supply food in the premium Tejas Express by August, railway officials said. Food provided by only one contractor will then be made available across the entire route.
At present, while breakfast for the journey towards Karmali is supplied from the base kitchen at Chhatarapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), food for the remaining route is supplied from the base kitchen at Ratnagiri . As per the initial menu proposed, an effort was made to provide food famous in the Konkan belt.
“It is our aim to serve delicacies originating from the Konkan belt to the passengers. The new contractor will be licenced to handle the catering for the entire route of the train. We will float tenders for the same by next month,” said Pinakin Morawala, public relations officer, IRCTC.
Passengers of Tejas Express, inaugurated last month, had offered mixed reviews about the quality of food being offered. While some had issues about the meals being served late, others complained that the quantity offered was unimpressive.
“We did not find the food quality to be great or even above average. As we pay more than other trains for the food here, we wanted it to be better in taste, or at least warm. But what was served was cold. Also, no specific cuisine was served, as promised. It is only recently that they have started serving lunch, a feature not introduced before,” claimed Raj Bhavsar, a commuter.
Others too had issues with the taste of the food. “The dal in particular was below average. While the other amenities offered in the train are nice, some changes in the food can be introduced,” said Himanshu Siloiya, another Tejas commuter.
“We have been taking feedback of passengers to understand their likes and dislikes, and eating preferences. The new contractor will make the due investment in infrastructure to ensure commuters get hot and fresh food. We will offer the contract only to a registered dealer with a valid certificate,” said a senior IRCTC official.
Officials now plan to replace certain items on the menu with food popular in the region. “We plan to introduce sabudana khichadi, replace chaas/lassi with solakadi and offer kokam sarbat to commuters instead of fruit juice,” the official added. The new menu would be in place before the Ganapati festival, during which the train is expected to see maximum crowd.