Not enough space in Train 18 coaches for catering: IRCTC official
Train 18, billed as India’s fastest train, doesn’t have adequate space inside its coaches to offer catering services, an official at the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) said. IRCTC is a subsidiary of Indian Railways that handles catering, tourism and online ticketing operations.
According to the IRCTC official, the food storage cabins in Train 18, touted as the next generation train, are much smaller than those in the Shatabdi Express — they have just one-third the space.
Worse, catering trolleys have to be kept in passageways because of the space constraint, which could inhibit the movement of passengers, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Train 18 will connect Delhi with Varanasi and take about eight hours to complete the journey between the two cities. Last month, Train 18 became India’s fastest train when it hit a speed of 180 kmph during a trial run.
IRCTC, which is finalising the menu for the train, has flagged the space issue with Railways and has requested the national transporter to create extra space for food storage and trolleys.
“The train will now run for more than eight hours so the catering will include full meals apart from breakfast. The train coach does have space for catering trolleys, but that’s not enough,” said the IRCTC official.
“They [the manufacturer] probably have created the space considering the train will ply on a 4-5 hour route and only breakfast will be served to passengers. But now we have requested (Railways) to create additional space to accommodate food items,” official added. The fare and the stations where the train is likely to stop are yet to be decided, said the official.
“It is good that the problem has been identified and the manufacturer of the next train will take care of that. Besides, there is no facility of hot water, for which we have requested the authorities as well,” the official added.
Following the successful run of the first Train 18, Railways plan to introduce more such trains and identified Bengaluru-Hyderabad, Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Kolkata-Patna as possible routes .
Named Train 18 because of the year of its manufacturing, the train was expected to run by December end. But despite receiving initial clearance from the authorities, the train, which will travel at a speed of 160 kmph, is now likely to begin commercial operations only by the end of January.
According to Railways officials, a few safety clearances are awaited and once they are received, they will approach the Prime Minister’s Office to finalise a launch date. PM Narendra Modi was supposed to inaugurate the train.
The train has rotating seats, which can be aligned in the direction of travel in the executive class. It also has modular toilets with a bio-vacuum system, modular luggage racks with a glass bottom and sliding doors in coaches.