The Ministry of Railways has been gradually changing the face of Indian trains. A survey in 2015 had revealed the deplorable condition of pantry cars. These pantry cars are equipped with LPG cylinders, raising the stake of fire hazards on trains. According to Business Today reports Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has asked the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to come up with a plan to attach fully air-conditioned pantry cars to every train. The AC pantries will have induction cooking systems and will ensure hygienic cooking environment. As of now, only Mumbai’s Rajdhani Express has that facility.
Steps being taken by the Railways
Operation Swarn: Under this operation, several Rajdhani and Shatabdi expresses will be improved at the cost of Rs 50 lakh per train. Railways will upgrade these trains across several parameters from cleanliness, punctuality to service. Many of these trains have already been refurbished. By the end of September, 14 Rajdhanis and 15 Shatabdis would be all new and shiny.
New couplers: Another redo that Rajdhani and Shatabdis are undergoing is new coupler systems that will ensure smoother rides. Couplers are devices that connect coaches. According to a report in the Financial Express, the new couplers will be equipped with balanced draft gear that has high-capacity shock absorbers, which will reduce the number of jerks experienced on trains. By the end of October, all Rajdhani and Shatabdis will have new couplers, while by the end of December all premium trains across the country will be installed with new couplers.
Clean Toilets: Train toilets have been the subject of ridicule, complaints and consternation equally. Now, the railways are looking to install bio-vacuum toilets, similar to the ones on aircraft. These toilets will not only have more efficient flushing but will also reduce foul odour.
Railways catering: A lot of changes are being made in catering and packaging of food served on trains. Facing a lot of complaints regarding the food served on trains, IRCTC has decided to rework the menu. With the Centre slashing GST rates, prices of meals served on trains have also taken a dip. Food served to passengers by IRCTC has been made cheaper by Rs 3 to Rs 10. Catering charges on premium trains were also cut by Rs 40 to Rs 60 depending on the class of travel. The change in pricing has also altered ticket fares in premium trains that include 18% GST on catering charges. Additionally, trains that have pantries such as Rajdhani Express and Duronto Express will now have an IRCTC manager to address food-related complaints such as substandard quality or overcharging.