New Delhi: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today asked caterers to provide quality food on trains -- an instruction he gave while himself observing a fast.
Goyal, who was in Thane as part of the BJP's day-long nationwide fast over the washout of the budget session of Parliament, spoke via-video conference with the representatives of the food and beverage industry to improve catering services on trains.
Speaking from the stage of the protest, he conveyed to them that substandard food being served to train passengers was unacceptable.
The minister, who recently received complaints about over-pricing and quality of food being served to passengers on trains, said that the railways would not make any compromise on quality.
He said that there should be a master plan for rates and concentration should be on quality rather than variety.
"The minister said that even if the caterer was giving less variety it was OK, but the quality should be maintained. He also said that an exit policy should be put in place by the railways in case a caterer wanted to discontinue services," a railway official said.
The minister told the caterers that strict action should be taken against cartels operating in the railways, the official said.
Goyal asked caterers to impress the passengers with the quality of food.
The minister said that the catering staff would now use Point of Sale machines for accounting and if a bill was not given, the meal would be considered free.
The minister also said that service staff found taking tips would be blacklisted and warned that the tip system should be stopped.
"MR (Minister of Railways) has told the caterers that all complaints should be made public and strict action should be taken against corruption, and his office be directly informed of such wrong doings.
"A la carte menu should be laminated and provided in all trains along with approved rate cards," the official said.
Goyal also asked the caterers to create protocols for pantry cars to ensure roaches and other pests are taken care of.
Make a checklist and set standard operating procedures, the minister told the caterers.
The representatives from food and beverage groups requested that all catering items should be priced in multiples of five which will aid the passengers and reduce instances of overcharging. They also suggested that unauthorised hawking on station and in trains should be eradicated.
During the interaction, the introduction of hot food vending machines on platforms and trains and promotion of ready-to-eat meals and e-catering was also discussed.
Food and beverages industry players such as Hindustan Unilever Limited, Cafe Coffee Day, Nestle, Travel Food Services, Bikanerwala, among others took part in the interaction along with senior railway officials and IRCTC.