by Elton Gomes
Indian Railways passengers are surely in for a treat. Passengers travelling on the Western railway zone can now enjoy tasty and hygienic food thanks to food vending machines installed by the Indian Railway Catering Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
The IRCTC has collaborated with Bueno Insta Pizza Pvt Ltd (YESS PIZZA) and Owl Tech Pvt Ltd (FRSHLY) and installed a food vending machine at Mumbai Central station.
The food vending machine is a first for the Indian Railways. IRCTC officials said the machine helps serve food in a “mechanised” way. The vending machines were introduced on a pilot basis on November 7, and have found popularity with long-distance commuters taking trains late in the evening.
How do the vending machines work?
Located in the cafeteria of Mumbai Central station, a commuter receives a token in exchange for money. The passenger then inserts the token inside the vending machine to receive the pizza. The total time taken, right from inserting a token to receiving the pizza, amounts to roughly five minutes.
The options are limited to vegetarian and are priced between Rs 180 to Rs 260 for an 8-slice, 10.5-inch pizza. The vending machine operates from 7 am till 11 pm throughout the week.
Store manager Abdul Hanif, from Yes Pizza, which operates the machine, said: “The pizza is made in three parts here. First, dough is prepared from the flour and sauce is added to the pizza base. Then, the base is transferred to another area where cheese and toppings are added. Finally, the pizza gets placed inside an oven where it is baked at 380 degrees Celsius for two minutes,” the Indian Express reported.
“Since we started, we have sold close to 40 to 45 pizzas on a daily basis, with maximum sales recorded between 7 pm to 9.30 pm,” Hanif added. Moreover, the pizzas can even be delivered to you. In the event of rush during peak hours, passengers can have pizzas delivered to their coach.
Fries and fruit juices too
Commuters also have the choice of French fries (priced between Rs 60 to Rs 70) and seasonal fruit juices (Rs 50) from other vending machines placed alongside the pizza machine. ie
IRCTC spokesperson Pinakin Morawalla said, “As this is the first initiative of IRCTC, we will gauge its popularity and see where else it can be installed. It has received a decent response till now,” as reported by the Indian Express.
UDAY Express becomes first train to have food-vending machine
In another first, the IRCTC installed a tablet-operated automatic food vending machine in a moving train.
This new food vending machine was installed in the newly introduced Coimbatore-Bengaluru UDAY Express in June. The automatic food vending machine offers a variety of snacks and beverages such as biscuits, chips/Kurkure-type packaged eatables and canned juices, aerated drinks, and tea/coffee.
The automatic food vending machines were installed in the mini-pantry-cum-dining areas of three coaches on the new UDAY Express double-decker train.
Commuters on the UDAY Express can place their order using the tablet, and the machine dispenses food/coffee after the payment has been made. Initially, only cash payment will be accepted, but facilities are being worked out to enable cashless transactions.
Shopping complex, airport-like entry and exit planned for railway stations
The Narendra Modi government’s last budget before the next general elections allocated a staggering Rs 1.48 trillion for the railways. The amount proposes for capacity expansion along with a better, safer rail experience for passengers.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced that 600 railway stations were selected for modernization. The plan reportedly was to adopt a public-private partnership model.
However, due to a lack of interest from private investors, the railways decided to uplift 68 stations through its own resources. The list reportedly includes some of the busiest stations in the country, namely the Old Delhi railway station, Howrah, Patna, Allahabad, Vijayawada, Pune, Bengaluru, Ambala, and Chennai Egmore.
All the shortlisted railway stations will reportedly get state-of-the-art amenities, including elevators, swanky waiting rooms, a modern passenger announcement system, new platforms, a shopping complex, and airport-like entry and exit.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius