Introduced for the first time in India in 1853, rail transport has reached a phenomenal status in the world’s largest democracy. Indian Railways has always been looked up to in awe by other nations all over the world. This is mainly because of the mere number of rail networks laid down initially by the British Raj for personal (exploitative and time saving) purposes and eventually maintained and developed by India after independence. While the Indian Railways has been in the spotlight for several reasons, this time it is because of the food available for its passengers.
Two years ago, the Indian Railways decided to do away with cooking in a majority of pantry cars and instead brought in private contractors who would provide cooked food to the pantry cars. The food would be heated and supplied to the passengers. Another important step implemented was the dedicated helpline for complaints and suggestions in the catering services. A new online food catering service has also been initiated which will help passengers order food online while paying for it on delivery.
Towards the end of 2014 one more step was taken towards globalisation and customer satisfaction. Domino’s Pizza, one of the most beloved international pizza parlors based in the USA, partnered with IRCTC to offer pizzas to passengers. As expected, this venture is currently implemented (since February this year) in its trial stages in 12 major stations in the vicinity of the National Capital Region (New Delhi, Agra Cantonment, Jaipur, Alwar, Ambala, Jalandhar Cantonment, Muzzafarnagar, Vapi, Vadodara, Bharuch, Mathura and Pathankot Cantonment) where majority of the trains to or in North India ply.
While the entry of Domino’s Pizza into the world of ‘train-food’ is just a few months old, KFC, another food giant based in the USA, has now tied up with IRCTC to offer its meals for train passengers through IRCTC’s e-catering services.
Judging by the current entry of these two Western food giants into the catering services of Indian trains, the time is not far away for other food and drink franchises to enter this growing market. This is a win-win solution for all the three parties involved in the transactions – Passengers get their favourite food on board; Food chains now come to occupy a hitherto unknown market; and the IRCTC gets brownie points for making its customers happy as well as making profits through the partnerships with franchises.