Patna: Seeking to explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional on trains, the Railway ministry has decided to put it on trial on four pairs of premium trains — two Rajdhanis and two Shatabdis — on a pilot basis for 45 days from now.The trial, beginning June 15, is to be conducted to ascertain the cuisine choices of travelling passengers and provide them with local food of their choice.

The four premium pairs of trains on which the trial is to be conducted are: Nizamuddin-Mumbai Central (12953-12954) August Kranti Rajdhani, New Delhi-Patna Rajdhani (12309-12310), Pune-Secunderabad Shatabdi Express (12025-26) and Howrah-Puri Shatabdi Express (12277-12278).Railway Minister  Suresh Prabhu, in his 2016-17 budget speech, had announced that trials would be conducted to explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional on trains.

During  the trial period , catering services will be included by default. However, passengers have to specifically ‘opt out’ from the mandatory food option, and catering charges will be excluded from the ticket fare.  Passengers will not be allowed to change their options at any point of time once they exercise such an option at the time of booking their tickets, an IRCTCofficial said .

“Such a measure will not put into  inconvenience travelling passengers in any manner as catering is being made only optional. On the contrary, it will offer expanded cuisine choices for them to savour local delicacies,” said  IRCTC  CMD A K Manocha . According to him , IRCTC will ensure provision of e-catering facility  enroute stations of these four trains so that local cuisines are available to the travelling passengers. Besides, those showing preference for e-catering will not have to pay for mandatory catering charges as part of their total ticket fare,” he said adding based on the feedbacks from passengers,  Railway ministry will consider introducing such a facility in other trains also .


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