New IRCTC Catering Policy to separate Cooking, Distribution in Railways

NEW DELHI: Railways will announce a new policy for its catering services which shall separate the functioning of its cooking and food distribution onboard.

The new catering policy to be announced by Railway minister Suresh Prabhu envisages fulfilling aspirations of public regarding healthy and hygienic food as it was flooded with complaints against food quality.

While the food will be prepared at the state-of-the-art base kitchens, it would be distributed through service providers from hospitality industry, according to the new policy which aims to attract reputed food-chain players from the market.

The new policy replacing the seven-year-old one gives back the IRCTC, a railways PSU, onboard catering responsibility for majority of trains including all the new ones.

The Railways PSU was relieved from the responsibility through the current policy effected by the then Railway minister Mamata Banerjee in 2010.

“IRCTC would begin to manage catering service in a phased manner. IRCTC would unbundle catering service by creating distribution primarily between food preparation and its distribution,” Prabhu had announced in the 2016 Rail Budget.

Railway catering policy-2017 also empowers the IRCTC to fix menu and tariff in consultation with Railway Board.

In order to achieve social objective, the policy allows 33 per cent sub quota for women in allotment of stalls at all stations.

“Besides, self-help groups will also be empaneled in catering services to promote employment opportunities in various regions,” Railway Ministry sources said, adding “milk stalls would be alloted at all stations through open tender.” Stringent guidelines have been incorporated in the policy to set up base kitchens at major junctions and also to restrict IRCTC from outsourcing private licensees outrightly.

Perpetual renewal of food stalls at stations has been done away with and the new policy envisages that tenure of stalls shall be of five years only.

The new policy, which encourages e-catering system, was finalised after taking suggestions from all stakeholders.

Gist of New Catering Policy 2017

Mobile Units and Base Kitchens:

●       IRCTC shall manage catering service on all mobile units including catering services on all new trains/ trains started on short notice. Pantry car contracts awarded by zonal railways shall also be reassigned to IRCTC.

●       Meals for all mobile units will be picked up from the nominated kitchens, owned operated and managed by IRCTC. IRCTC shall develop different archetypes of kitchens keeping in view supply of food and usage assessed.

○       All four Base Kitchens under departmental operation of Zonal Railways (Nagpur, CSTM, BCT and Balharshah) and all kitchen units i.e. Refreshment Rooms at A1 and A category stations, Jan Ahaar, Cell Kitchens shall be handed over to IRCTC on ‘as is where is basis’.  Besides IRCTC may set up its own Kitchens at additional stations if required.

○       Kitchen structures/ land/space will 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 of Re.1/- (Re. one) per sqft. p.a. subject to minimum of Rs.100/- p.a.

○       IRCTC shall develop the Business model for the kitchens so that they can expand and enhance the service.

○       IRCTC shall prepare and submit a detailed concession agreement for setting up/development of the kitchens for approval of Railway Board.

○       IRCTC shall not outrightly outsource or issue licenses for provision of catering services to private licensees.

○       IRCTC shall determine the menu of standard meals and A-la-carte items. The standard meals served in trains shall be within the fixed tariff approved by Railway Board.

●       IRCTC may involve/empanel Self Help groups for providing catering related services.

 Static Units

●       Zonal Railways will manage static units (catering/milk stalls, trolleys etc.) except base kitchens and kitchen units to be handed over to IRCTC. IRCTC shall be responsible for catering services in static unit viz., Food Plazas, Food Courts and Fast Food Units.

●       Allotment of all Minor Catering units at all category of stations to be done through open tender.

●       For the first time, it has been envisaged that Allotment of Special Minor Units (reserved category) at all category stations will be done through open tendering system within the similar reserved category. The technical eligibility criteria has been simplified

●       Allotment of Milk Stalls at all stations shall be done through open tender system as against calling application.

●       For Milk Stalls, in addition to dairy cooperative federations/members of NCDFI bodies/agencies registered/certified by FSSAI for sale of milk and milk products have been made eligible to participate at all category of stations.

●       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.

●       For smooth implementation of renewal, ceiling limit on holding of minor units including milk stalls, computation of units has been defined.

●       33% sub quota for women in allotment of each category of minor catering units at all category of stations has been provided.