Indian Railways has over time come to be synonymous with lack of hygiene and low maintenance. Although the Railways has tried hard to carve a better reputation for itself, through improved and fastidious redressal, it seems it is still faltering at certain points, say pantry services for one.
Protapta Das, a Facebook user, recently wrote a post calling out a ‘catering scam’ in Railways pantry cars. Attributed to a retired IAS officer Shivendra K Sinha, the post implies that Yesvantpur-Howrah Express pantry car in-charge and other workers tried selling the passenger food at double the prices. Upon searching on the Internet for IRCTC’s latest menu rates, it was apparently found that veg meals that the pantry worker was selling at Rs 90, was in fact of Rs 50. They also apparently refused to show the passenger the rate card of the food items. The post insists people to ask for a bill every time they order food on the train to not fall prey to the “scam”.
“INDIAN RAILWAY CATERING SCAM IN PANTRY CARS
Shivendra K. Sinha IAS Ret’d
Last week i was travelling from Visakhapatnam to Howrah in Yesvantpur-Howrah Express. Ordered Veg. meal from the pantry car, as per waiter it was Rs.90/- only.
I have always in mind that these people are charging very high for the meals but never took it seriously. But this time i determined to enquire about it.
Googled about the rate card and menu, found this website,
IRCTC Help: IRCTC Latest Food Menu Rates
I was shocked when I saw the rates –
Veg meals which pantry car person was selling at Rs 90 was priced only Rs 50/-
Non-Veg meals pantry car rate was priced Rs 100 is only Rs 55/-
Two more options are also available as Standard Thali Meals- Veg and Non-Veg atRs 35 and Rs 40.
After meals , i handed over Rs 50 to the waiter, but he was demanding 90.
I asked him about the RATE CARD, he refused to have any such thing.
Shown him the above website and rates, he was like Rs. 50 will be ok but DON’T TELL ANYONE.
I was so furious, travelled all the way from 13th coach to 1st coach to the pantry car.
And on my way, informed co-passengers who were taking the meals from pantry about this scam.
Met the Pantry-In-charge. Enquired about this. he was also telling the same story, rate cards are missing right now but will shortly get the new one.
About the Jacked price of meal he was mum. Lodge a complaint in his Complaint register , which he handed over to me after half an hour.
Initially he was pleading not to write the complaint but after writing the complaint, he was like nobody will see this , it will go into dustbin that’s it.
To my surprise, against my complaint (he is obliged to give reason in writing – triplet complaint copies – one has to handed over to customer) he wrote “taken only Rs 50 from customer Bill No XXX and this customer writes complaint every time he travels. “
The same situation is in almost every train, pantry car meals price are jacked up as no one question them, no one ask about the rate card.
As per one of the estimate, every day around 25 million passenger travel from Indian Railways , if only 0.5% of these passengers takes either lunch or dinner from pantry cars , even extra rupees 30 on each plate will make these people rich by Rs 37,500,000.
Calculate for yourself for 100% passengers complaining.
Or just multiply Rs 37,500,000 by 200 and again by 365…
Please do insist for Bill every time you ordered any food from a Railway pantry car.
Please do try to forward this to all, as so many depend on Rail travel & can’t afford Air travel.”
It so happens that though the post mentions IRCTC, the catering for that particular train is not handled by IRCTC at all, but by another catering service.
Nevertheless, IRCTC is aware of the phenomenon of over-pricing in trains and has been taking measures to make passengers aware of the various price points of products available, according to IRCTC PRO Sandip Dutta. It just so happens that they began tweeting out price lists as part of the campaign Know Your Entitlement as this post went viral.
We have not been able to ascertain if the catering service for the train mentioned in the post has taken any measures yet.