Frequent travellers on premier trains, including Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto trains, will soon have to shell extra for better quality food, but will have a lesser spread for breakfast or dinner.
Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal instructed officials on Tuesday to finalise plans to provide enhanced catering tariffs to commensurate with good quality of service.
Bansal favors a minimal hike in food tariff, along with a visible improvement in quality and service.
This should be possible by cutting down on the "huge costs" borne by the Railways as payment of "service charges" to contractors (towards transportation and supply of raw material).
The option of cutting down on food items is also being favored. "This will help the railways reduce the burden of enhanced tariffs on the passengers', the minister told the meeting.
The list of items that can get eliminated from the menu of Rajdhani/Shatabdi passengers includes salad, sweets, soup and toffee. Morning tea in these trains is priced at Rs 13, while breakfast and evening snacks come for Rs 40. A lunch or dinner costs Rs 75.
In a memorandum submitted to the railways minister recently, the All-India Train Catering Contractors' Association had demanded an upward revision in lunch/dinner charges by Rs 40, besides a Rs 20 increase in existing rates for breakfast and evening snacks.
Enhanced catering rates for these trains - unchanged since 1999 - are likely to be announced before the end of the existing catering contracts on May 20.
In several railway zones, caterers are running on temporary extensions after their contracts expired.