Passengers of the Rajdhani Express, which runs between Mumbai Central and Delhi, and the August Kranti Rajdhani Express, between Mumbai Central and Hazrat Nizamuddin station, had to face a delay of at least two hours before departure on Saturday, as the catering staff refused to board the trains.
According to senior railway officials, the staff of a private firm managed by the Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) complained against “daily harassment” and interrogation over the midnight heist of passengers’ belongings on the Rajdhani on August 16.
“The staff of Rajdhani/August Kranti Rajdhani Express pantry car has informed that they are fed up with the daily harassment of rounding up by security personnel for questioning. They are afraid and do not want to work in such situation. IRCTC is pursuing the matter and all possible efforts are being made to provide services,” Pinakin Morawalla, chief public relations officer of the IRCTC, said.
“I was supposed to attend an appointment at 8.30 pm in Surat, which has now been rescheduled to Wednesday. I am disappointed by the delay and mismanagement on the Rajdhani. Who is going to compensate for the loss of our time?,” said Mohammed Rassawala, a passenger.
“The staff removed the eatables from the train at Borivali station after the train left. After waiting for two hours, they put it back. We want serious action against them for wasting our time,” said Ronak Patel, also a passenger on the Rajdhani.
Sources in the catering staff said that they were miffed with the daily interrogation by GRP at various railway stations. The interrogation is part of a probe into a case of theft in which belongings worth Rs 11 lakh were stolen. “The GRP and Railway Protection Force men would travel onboard after the incident for passengers’ security. The catering staff complained that the personnel would wake them up in the middle of the night and check for their ID cards and ask for medical check-ups,”a source said.
The railway has assured that the staff would not be bothered on journeys hereafter. The Rajdhanis employ 38 catering staff on each train. “Services resumed after sufficient staff for catering boarded the train from Borivali station,” Morawalla added.