Need for serving better food in trains

I refer to The Tribune report on the shoddy catering services in the Chandigarh-New Delhi Shatabdi Express (April 17). I was also travelling by the train in question and had a tummy upset the next day. The reason, I feel, was not due to bad stuff served by the catering staff but, perhaps, on account of the erratic schedule of evening tea and dinner served in the train.

We were served tea at about 6.45 pm — a big samosa, sandwich, sweet and two cups of tea. All this after we had our evening tea at home! A service of cold drinks would have been sufficient. The dinner was served at about 8.15 pm — rice pulao, two roomali rotis, rajma, panner, salad and curds. And then came a large cup of ice cream! Clearly, this was too much.

Tea may be okay for passengers travelling right from Kalka, but not for those boarding the train at Chandigarh. Instead, a small glass of cold drink would serve the purpose.

I suggest the railway authorities to skip the evening tea schedule in the New Delhi-bound Shatabdi Express.

C.P. SHARMA, Former Director (Traffic), Ministry of Railways, New Delhi

Dear readers

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I am grateful to The Tribune for having highlighted a common problem faced by the Shatabdi Express passengers. Catering contractors ought to have been verified for experience and efficiency before the Railways award contracts. The Senior DCM’s contention that that contractor is new is unacceptable and does not stand the test of scrutiny.

On April 8 (Train No. 2006), the catering manager refused to serve me breakfast on the ground that I had earlier complained about poor service in the train. When I asked for the complaint book again, breakfast was promptly served to me.

Col S.K. LAMBA (retd), Panchkula


The food served in trains like the Punjab Mail and the Mangla Express is very bad. We had a bitter experience when we travelled by the Punjab Mail from Faridkot to Bhopal on April 10 and then by the Mangla Express from Bhopal to Manmad on April 12. The same was the case during our return journey on April 13 and April 15 by the two trains respectively.

The food pack with just two chapatis, a small quantity of boiled rice and curry costs Rs 47 now (apparently because of the Service Tax) as against the earlier price of Rs 30. No salad and water were served with the lunch and dinner. We had to buy them separately.

Apparently, the price hike is because of the Service Tax in the Union Budget. However, in the absence of notification by the Railway Ministry, there is lot of confusion among the passengers. The authorities should promptly display in all the coaches of the trains the revised prices of all food items served in the long distance trains.

M.G. GUPTA, Faridkot

Caring for kids, US style

I would like to share my recent experience with The Tribune readers on how a policeman at Mountbatten Court, Indianapolis (USA), responded to the irresponsible act of a mother very recently.

A young mother walked into a grocery store, leaving her infant alone inside her car outside the store. When a policeman on patrol spotted the four-month-old baby, he took him to his patrol car and waited for his mother. He arrested her after herreturn on an initial charge of child neglect. Later, she was released on a bond for $ 3,500.

The child was examined by the medical personnel and placed into protective custody. According to the law, the woman will get her baby back only after successfully completing a court approved course in child rearing. America reacts very sharply when its children are abused or neglected. On the other hand, even though children in India are sold, abused, exploited and fed infested food, no one goes to jail.


Vacant berths

Most long distance trains have vacant berths in Sleeper Class, AC Three Tier and AC Two Tier classes in the first 200-300 km of their origin and the last 200-300 km of their destination. Daily commuters and short distance passengers, in connivance with the Ticket Collectors, either travel free or without proper tickets during this route.

In this computer age, the status of the vacant berths can be assessed easily at any time. Why can’t the authorities convert these vacant berths into seats in SL and AC classes after they become vacant and sell the tickets till the last minute on the window? This will make the passengers’ journey comfortable as also generate good revenue for the Railways, presently pocketed by the Ticket Collectors.

Dr KIRTI DUA, Ludhiana

Pension disbursement

Pension to the ex-servicemen, who are 85 or above, should be disbursed at their residence and for this purpose a mobile bank could be created which could visit different segments of the district/sub-divisions on fixed days in a month.

One third of such age group find it difficult to proceed to the bank from a distant village and stand in the queue. While in service, the ex-servicemen stayed away from their homes. Pension at home at this age will be a great help.

Col M.S. BEHL (retd), Gurdaspur


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