Muffins, doughnuts for breakfast, and five-star dinner on Train 18
Muffins and donuts for breakfast, a piping-hot lunch from an upmarket restaurant in Allahabad and a five-star dinner from a hotel in Kanpur – that’s how the Delhi-Varanasi Train 18, to be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 15, plans to tickle the taste buds of passengers.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to outsource catering operations for the train, alternatively called the Vande Bharat Express and set to run at 160 kmph, in an effort to improve the quality of food served to passengers.
“We have tied up with a hotel in Kanpur and dinner will be loaded there. Dinner will be served from Kanpur onwards for passengers coming from Varanasi and going to New Delhi. For travel between New Delhi and Varanasi, we will have lunch at Allahabad. The food outlet has not been finalised yet but it will be of a good brand,” said an IRCTC official on the condition of anonymity.
IRCTC is a subsidiary of Indian Railways and handles catering, tourism and online ticketing operations.
The official said the food would be packaged in such a way that it would stay warm till it is served. The serving staff on the train – commercial operations start on February 17 – will be trained to be courteous to passengers and offer hand sanitisers at meal times.
“For breakfast in the morning, we will not be serving the regular Indian Railway breakfast of cutlet and bread. There will be patties, muffins and donuts for breakfast,” the official quoted above added.
The Delhi-Varanasi Train 18 will complete its journey in about eight hours, during which passengers will be served breakfast, lunch and a snack. During a trial run late last year, Train 18 became India’s fastest train when it hit a speed of 180 kmph.
The train has two classes of tickets, executive class and chair car, which includes catering charges and the goods and services tax (GST). According to a senior Indian Railway official, a passenger travelling from New Delhi to Varanasi by executive class will have to pay Rs 3,310; a chair car ticket is priced at Rs 1,760.
An executive class ticket from Allahabad to Varanasi costs Rs 905 and a chair car ticket on the same route Rs 460, the official added.
The train has rotating seats, which can be aligned in the direction of travel in the executive class. It has toilets with a bio-vacuum system, modular luggage racks with a glass bottom and sliding doors in coaches.
“We are trying to give passengers on this ‘Make in India’ train a world-class experience. From cleanliness to food, everything has been decided carefully to enhance passenger experience,” said another Indian Railway official not wishing to be named.
After the successful trial run of the first Train 18 last year, there are plans to introduce more such trains. The possible routes include Bengaluru-Hyderabad, Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Kolkata-Patna.