No more cooking fresh food in pantry cars of long-distance trains, passengers unhappy with IRCTC

Published on Jun 18, 2022 12:31 AM IST

PUNE Don’t be surprised the next time you are travelling by a long-distance train if the food served does not feel fresh because the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has stopped cooking food inside the pantry coaches of these trains since last week

Packed food weight being checked at the pantry car of Jhelum Express on Friday. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Packed food weight being checked at the pantry car of Jhelum Express on Friday. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

PUNE Don’t be surprised the next time you are travelling by a long-distance train if the food served does not feel fresh because the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has stopped cooking food inside the pantry coaches of these trains since last week. The reason cited by the IRCTC is cylinder blasts and consequent burning of coaches. Hereon, the IRCTC will cook food in its cell kitchen on platform number 1 of Pune railway station and service nearly 300 meals daily to 15 trains. Apart from meals, other food items such as breakfast, snacks, packed and preserved food items and water bottles, too, will be provided from the IRCTC cell kitchen.

A senior IRCTC official of the Pune division on condition of anonymity said, “The decision was taken by the IRCTC high-level committee last week and as per the instructions given, we have now completely stopped cooking food in pantry cars. The gas cylinders have been removed from the coaches and food is being cooked round-the-clock as per the timings of the trains through our cell kitchen here at the Pune railway station.”

Earlier, passengers would get freshly-cooked food inside pantry cars on long-distance trains but now the system has changed completely. The cylinders have been removed from pantry cars and food is being cooked from the base ‘cell kitchen’ on platform number 1 of Pune railway station from where it is taken to the pantry cars. Currently in the Pune division, around 300 meal packets, both veg and non-veg, are being sent daily to 16 long-distance trains.

Asked how food will be served in Pune’s prestigious Deccan Queen express train that has its own dining car, the official said, “Currently, all cooked breakfast items such as vegetable cutlets, bread omelet, tea and coffee are cooked here at the station and then sent into the train. Whereas after the new coaches come on June 22 for the Deccan Queen train, there will be an electric induction system where at least breakfast items can be cooked.”

Meanwhile, passengers are unhappy with this decision of the IRCTC. Harsha Shah, president of the Railway Pravasi Group, said, “The reason given by the railways for removing the cylinders from the pantry cars is completely baseless. In my 60 years of travelling by the railways across the country, I have never heard of any incident where pantry cars have caught fire. Moreover, the food which is cooked hours before will not remain in good quality when it is served to passengers on long-distance trains.”

Another passenger Shailesh Kshirsagar who often travels to Delhi for his work said, “When I travel in long-distance trains, it is expected to get well cooked food in the train while travelling. Now if we are getting food which is cooked hours before we eat and our health deteriorates, who is to blame for it?”

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