Following numerous grievances from passengers aboard the Vande Bharat train regarding the inconvenience caused by the sale of PAD (bakery products, wafers, confectionery items, cold drinks, etc.) and a la carte items, the railway ministry took prompt action by imposing a ban on the sale of packaged food items on the train for the upcoming six months.
The ministry circulated a notice regarding the sales ban, indicating that the decision is a pilot measure and will undergo evaluation after a period of six months.
The decision was prompted by complaints from customers about unsanitary conditions aboard Vande Bharat trains.
“It has been observed that allowing the sale of PAD (bakery products, wafers, confectionery items, cold drinks etc.) and a la carte items is leading to increasing complaints from passengers,” the circular said.
The central issue stemmed from storing packaged food items in the entryway, resulting in frequent opening of the automated doors. This disruption inconvenienced passengers by obstructing their movement.
In its circular, the ministry also requested the IRCTC to refrain from stockpiling pennybottles and to ensure timely stocking of water bottles.
The ministry stated that bottles will now be provisioned and refilled for a single journey to optimize space. They further mentioned that preparations are underway to deliver services akin to those offered by airlines.
In relation to catering services, passengers will need to make advance bookings for their meals. An SMS notification will be sent for reconfirmation 24 to 48 hours prior to the commencement of the journey. For those who do not choose prepaid meals but wish to order on the train if available, an additional charge of Rs 50 will apply. Additionally, passengers will receive SMS updates regarding the meal options and portion sizes.
Numerous passengers reported receiving vegetarian breakfast despite paying for the non-vegetarian option. The ministry asserts that the new system will enhance transparency, allowing passengers to be fully informed about their purchase. All zonal railways have been instructed to announce pantry services at originating and boarding stations for Vande Bharat trains. Additionally, to guarantee provision of chilled bottled water and hot food to passengers, the respective departments will ensure that pantry equipment is functional before the journey begins.