Death of a Tradition – Indian Railways To Phase Out The Legendary Pantry Car; Pushes For e-Catering & Takeaways


Pantry car

One of the fondest memories of my childhood spent on traveling in trains had been the excitement of eating food cooked in pantry cars. The smell of freshly cooked food, streaming down the windows and doors during lunch and dinner time would be now a history, very soon.

In a move which can be described as a death of a tradition, an end of an era, Indian Railways has decided to gradually phase out pantry cars from all trains. The move will start from long distance trains, which have been traditionally powered with a pantry car to provide fresh food for their passengers.

Technology will play a major part here, as Indian Railways will push for e-catering service, dial-a-meal options and takeaways from railway stations on the way of the train route.

Recently, an official from Indian railways shared, “This is a long-time plan of the Indian Railways. The idea is to introduce e-catering at all stations and reduce dependency on private caterers who are in charge of pantry cars.”

Besides the hygiene factor, Indian Railways is also looking at monetary gains from this move, as allocating and maintaining tenders for pantry cars is expensive, and lately, contractors of such food pantry service have resorted to higher charges, while offering sub-standard quality of food to passengers.

Indian Railways – Evolving Constantly

Besides providing laptops, printers and wi-fi on trains, Indian Railways has gradually introduced e-catering service, wherein passengers can book a meal along with tickets online.

Additionally, passengers can now book a pizza from Dominos or a chicken burger from KFC, all while travelling in the train. Going one step further, dial-a-meal concept is also gaining foothold, and becoming an alternate way to book a meal during the travel.

Justifying this new policy Neeraj Sharma, a spokesman for Northern Railway said, “It’s because people want different types of food. This way we can offer pizza, burgers or continental [European] food. It’s an alternative arrangement,”

However, the pantry cars do have a tradition of their own. Introduced by the Britishers, food prepared in pantry cars served a million passengers everyday. On some routes, the menu still holds a resemblance to the British era – omelettes served with French fries; fried cutlets made with a mixture of ingredients, baked beans and hot tea served with sugar cubes and milk powder.

But with the introduction of high speed trains, automated closing doors and WiFi on the go, it seems that such luxuries would be now a permanent history.

Do you think pantry cars should be phased out or Indian railways should improve them and offer them as an alternative to e-catering and dial-a-meal service?

Do you have any fond memories associated with pantry cars? Do share your views by commenting right here!

  1. PONRAJ says

    Why don’t they remove the Parliament canteen, MP, MLA canteen. As well as they are paid with very good salary so what is the need of free perks and allowance. just cut it off. still bureaucrats are living in imaginary world. Most of the long journey trains are used by army people and frequent travelers. do you think its affordable? still in pantry car we can buy food for 40-60 rs. what is the price of food in e-catering service? they charge very high price. at the end of the day we have to spend more than the ticket fare for food in train. it’s ok for very few people who thinks fb and online shopping is world for them. if provide food at the cost of pantry car then I’m ok with it. or else people will show their reaction in next election.

  2. rohan khanna says

    Yes its a great move . but dont you think those who are illitrate will find it difficult to order by e catering . Also when there is long route trains there are very few stops . So my point is where will we get drinking water ? When a train halts at a very odd place for about an hour than how people will get food and drinking water ?

  3. sunny says

    I agree! They charge 120 for chicken biriyani but their biriyani is just tastelessplane rice and a chicken leg. Everything over-charged yet tasteless, not to mention unhygienic (if u ever visit pantry car u will feel like rather go hungry than eating)

  4. Purushottam says

    That’s a great move, technology making peoples life easy, hope to see better Indian Railways

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

who's online