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