Going on a long train journey no longer means eating soggy snacks and flavourless meals from the railway pantry.
From snack joints in Mumbai to restaurants near major railway stations and even an online food portal launched four months ago, innovative entrepreneurs and businessmen are offering the Indian rail passenger more palatable options.
Website travelkhanna.com, for instance, offers to take your order online and deliver a hot meal to your railway seat, from a range of restaurants at major junctions such as Surat, Valsad, Vadodara, Ratlam, Ahmedabad and even New Delhi and Gwalior.
Pushpinder Singh, founder of the website, says they have served 7,000 travellers so far and have tied up with local restaurants and domestic kitchens at 60 junctions across India.
Travellers can place their order online by confirming their travel dates and train and seat number and can expect a delivery boy to serve them in their seats at their chosen railway stop.
“People are usually not happy with the kind of food served on trains,” says Singh. “So I saw a great opportunity to start my business in this sector and it is progressing well.”
Among the Mumbai stores offering such services are Chheda Stores in Matunga, Anandji Premji at Girgaum and Shah Nanji Morarji & Company in Kandivli.
“We take orders on the phone and take payment on delivery. We have seen a 50% to 60% increase in demand from passengers travelling in long-distance trains,” says Himmat Chheda of Anandji Premji.
For the travellers, it is welcome respite. “The food served by these stores is not just tasty, but also served hot and you know it’s hygienic,” says Raju Malkhani, 52, a businessman from Kandivli who travels to Ahmedabad often for work and recently made his first order for lunch from Anandji Premji.
Adds Jayesh Jhaveri, 46, a trader in stocks who lives in Girgaum: “It is more convenient than to carry eatables from home.”