Unhappy with rail food? Pick up phone

New Delhi, Jan. 23: If you're not happy with food served on a train or station, call 1800-111-321. The complaint will be addressed in real time, railway minister Pawan Bansal has promised.

"Anyone can call the toll-free number and register his or her complaint and it will be addressed. The complaint can relate to anything, including overcharging, less quantity or substandard quality," Bansal said.

The number is operational from 7am to 10pm through the week. Since the helpline was opened on January 18, 26 complaints have been received.

But be prepared to pay more for food, with the minister saying prices would be reviewed. Food quality has suffered because the prices had not been raised in a long time, he said. "People would be willing to pay more if they get good quality food," he added.

Railways incurred a loss of about Rs 75 crore in catering in 2009-10 and Rs 54 crore in 2010-11.

Mobile squads have been formed to keep a regular check on contractors in trains and stations, the minister said.

Bansal added that the railways have decided to set up state-of-the-art base kitchens at 250 places across the country to improve the catering service. "We will give the land at a nominal rate for setting up modern base kitchens near stations," he said, adding land will be rented out at Re 1 per sqft.

The railways will also limit the number of contracts one contractor can get.

"We are in the process of finalising the bid for selecting new catering contractors and by the end of April, the process will be completed."

"We are finalising a policy to ensure that only curd prepared by reputed companies are served," Bansal said.

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