The prospect of having piping hot meals of your choice during a long journey may soon become a thing of the past if a proposal by the All India Railwaymen's Federation is accepted by the Railway Board. According to reports, the biggest railway employees' body has written to the Railway Ministry seeking the removal of pantry car and replacing it with a 3AC coach to help the Railways beef up its revenue streams.
The Railways is also reportedly giving it a serious thought.
Earlier, the Railways had said that it will no longer provide blankets even after the coronavirus situation improves, and now if the national transporter goes ahead with the move to do away with pantry cars, it may cause consternation among passengers.
Rail travel has always been a beneficiary of the nostalgia factor associated with it but the coronavirus pandemic has changed the perception of people towards travel and airlines will have an edge over Railways on the hygiene parameter.
So, what message will this move be sending out to passengers?
"Passengers won't be taking this move in a positive manner. With airlines like SpiceJet beefing up its services to smaller towns and cities, people will prefer to travel by air because of the time factor and this is going to hit Railways," Nishant Pitti, chief executive and co-founder, EaseMyTrip.com, told Moneycontrol.
Former Railway Board Chairman RK Singh, though, feels the Railways should set up more base kitchens.
"Base kitchens are a very good concept. The hygiene levels maintained in base kitchens will always be better than those in pantry cars. In today's environment, it is imperative to maintain highest standards of hygiene. I don't think pantry cars should be completely done away with. It has to be a mix of two. The Railways should set up more base kitchens if it is thinking of removing pantry cars," he told Moneycontrol.
Singh added that the Railways should ensure that whatever mode it chooses, the passengers should not face any inconvenience and they should eat fresh and hygienic food.Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here