Another round of fare hike in premier trains looks imminent with Railways revising food tariffs for Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains.
"It will be a minor hike ranging between Rs 15 and Rs 20 for Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto passengers after the revision of catering charges of the premier trains," a top Railway official involved with the decision making process said.
The revision will be announced shortly and the hike will be implemented as soon as the software is updated accordingly, the official said.
Once the revision is announced, fares of premier trains will witness hike for the second time after the latest increase on January 22.
Food tariff was revised for mail and express trains last month after 10 years, but it did not include catering services of Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains.
Passengers in premier trains are entitled to meals and snacks for which charges are included in the price of the ticket.
Railway Ministry had constituted a committee to study and suggest revision of tariff and menu of standard meals in premier and other mail and Express trains.
"The decision to revise the tariff was taken after examining the committee's recommendations as well as suggestions from the Railway Board," the official said.
Cash-strapped Railways has announced a slew of measures to improve catering services in all trains. While some items like cold drinks and chocolates are to be removed from the menu of premier trains, ice creams and curd will be supplied from reputed brands only.
"We are working out details which include changes in the menu in Rajdhani and other premier trains with the aim to provide good quality food to passengers," he said
Elaborating the rational behind tariff revision in premier trains, the official said, "The input cost of edible oil and other food materials has gone up many times since the last revision about a decade ago. So, the upward revision was overdue."
Railways provides about 91,000 meals and snacks daily in 59 premier trains including 21 Rajdhani and 23 Duronto trains.
He said efforts are on to improve quality of food being served on trains and checking squads have been formed to monitor catering services in rail premises.
Railways has launched a toll-free helpline (1800-11-321) empowering passengers to lodge complaints about the food quality or any issues related to catering service.
Railways claimed that complaints and suggestions received on the helpline, operational during meal time (7 AM to 10 PM) through the week, will be acted upon immediately, and the contract of the caterer can be terminated if the complaint is found to be justified.
After raising passenger fares, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had promised to improve passenger services including quality of food and cleanliness.
"We are determined to provide good food at reasonable price to every section of the passengers," Bansal had said.