Several vendors of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) have allegedly started charging passengers as per its revised food rates on some trains, despite an announcement by the Central Railway about the new rates coming into effect only from March 2020. Not only is IRCTC charging higher rates for food items, the passengers are not even being provided payment receipts for these meals, according to many passengers who Pune Newsline spoke to.
Last month, the Railway Board had revised the IRCTC’s on-board as well as station outlet menu, increasing rates of food items and beverages considerably. Since the order didn’t specify the date of implementation of the new rates, several vendors employed by IRCTC have started charging the new rates. However, the Central Railway on Tuesday issued a press statement clarifying that the new rates of food in Express/Mail trains as well as for pre-paid orders in Rajdhani/Shatabdi/Duronto trains will be applicable only from March 28, 2020.
“The Railway Board has revised the menu and tariff of pre-paid catering services of Rajdhani/Shatabdi/Duronto trains and standard meals and other food items provided in Mail/Express trains on payment basis, taking into consideration the requests of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and the recommendations of the menu and tariff committee set up by Railway Board. This revision of menu and tariff of catering services and standard meals will be implemented with effect from March 28, 2020, as per 120 days Advance Reservation Period,” read the statement issued by Central Railway authorities.
However, Pune Newsline spoke to several passengers who have travelled on Express trains in the last few weeks and they complained that they were charged extra by the vendors, who cited the revised prices. “I travelled from Pune to Vasco last week. The food vendor charged me Rs 110 for chicken biryani citing the revised rates (up from existing Rs 80). When I sought a bill, the executive promised to provide it but didn’t turn up after that,” said Atish R, a passenger.
Gururaj Sonna from the IRCTC’s Pune Division said he was not aware of the date of implementation but conceded that vendors have already started charging as per the new rates on Express and mail trains.
But S K Jain, the senior PRO of Central Railway, said the implementation of the revised rates will only commence in March 2020 and passengers should remain vigilant.
“If a vendor charges them more than the existing menu price, they should ask for a bill. If the vendor fails to provide a bill, they need not pay for the food. We have been carrying out the ‘No Bill, No Payment’ campaign’ and passengers need to avail benefits of it,” said Jain.
With the revised menu prices, the Railways has also decided to introduce chicken curry as an option in standard non-vegetarian meals, in addition to the existing non-vegetarian meal with egg curry. It will also offer biryani (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) as a standard meal in view of the item’s popularity.
There’s only one Shatabdi Train that is run by Pune Division, the Pune-Secunderabad Shatabdi Express which plies six days a week, while there are three Duronto trains — Pune-Howrah (twice a week), Pune-Nizamuddin (twice a week), and Pune—Ahmedabad (thrice a week). Another Duronto train, the Mumbai-Secunderabad Express, passes through Pune.