Question : Standard of Food

(a) whether Railway plans to improve the standard of food being provided to passengers by setting up 25 mega base kitchens across the country by separating the policy of cooking and food distribution on board trains in future and if so, the details worked out so far;

(b) whether the Railway proposes not to issue any new licences to private parties and they will not renew the existing licences of private parties and if so, the details thereof;

(c) whether the new policy aims to attract reputed food-chain players from the market and weed out contractors, most of who face CBI probe in corruption cases and if so, the details thereof; and

(d) whether meals for all mobile units will be picked up from the nominated kitchens, owned, operated and managed by IRCTC and if so, the details worked out so far?

Answer given by the minister


(a) to (d): To improve the standard of food being provided to passengers in trains, new Catering Policy has been issued on 27th February 2017 wherein inter-alia IRCTC has been mandated to carry out the unbundling by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution. In order to upgrade quality of food preparation, IRCTC is to set up new kitchens and upgrade existing ones. The salient features of the new Catering Policy 2017 are as under :-
(i) IRCTC to manage catering service on all mobile units. Pantry car contracts awarded by zonal railway to be reassigned to IRCTC.
(ii) Meals for all mobile units to be picked up from the nominated kitchens owned, operated and managed by IRCTC.
(iii) IRCTC not to outrightly outsource or issue licenses for provision of catering services to private licensees. IRCTC to retain the ownership and be fully accountable for all the issues pertaining to setting up and operation of the Base Kitchens and quality of food.
(iv) IRCTC to engage service providers from hospitality industry for service of food in trains.
(v) All four Base Kitchens under departmental operation of Zonal Railways (Nagpur, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CSTM) , Mumbai Central (BCT) and Balharshah) and all kitchen units i.e. Refreshment Rooms at A1 and A category stations, Jan Ahaar, Cell Kitchens are to be handed over to IRCTC on ‘as is where is basis’. IRCTC to set up its own Kitchens at additional stations, if required.
(vi) Kitchen structures/land/space to be handed over by zonal Railways to IRCTC, for a period of 10 years extendable for another period of 5 years, on a token license fee.
(vii) IRCTC to be responsible for management of Food Plaza, Food Courts, Fast food units within the ambit of this policy.
(viii) The setting up/ development / refurbishment of new or existing Base Kitchens/Kitchen units to be undertaken by IRCTC. These kitchens are to be owned, operated and managed by IRCTC.
(ix) IRCTC to develop different types of kitchens keeping in view supply of food and usage assessed.
(x) IRCTC to develop the Business model for the kitchens so that they can expand and enhance the service. IRCTC to prepare a detailed concession agreement for setting up/development of the kitchens.
(xi) Zonal railway to manage static unit (catering stall /milk stalls/ trolleys etc.) except base kitchens and kitchen units to be handed over to IRCTC .
(xii) For the purpose of allotment, a Refreshment Room (at B and below category stations) or a stall or a trolley to be deemed as one unit. As such, a single unit is to be awarded through a single license.
(xiii) Provision of perpetual renewal has been done away with. Now it has been envisaged that tenure of all static units (except kitchen units and Food Plaza) shall be 5 years only. Tenure of Food Plaza shall be for a period of 9 years.
(xiv) Allotments of General Minor Units at all category stations to be done through open, competitive, two-packet tendering system from the eligible bidders by divisions.
(xv) For the first time, it has been envisaged that allotment of Special Minor units (reserved category) at all category stations will be done by divisions through open tendering system within the similar reserved category. The technical eligibility criteria has been simplified.

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