The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is working on building a large-scale delivery network to enable fresh food delivery from restaurants to passengers at his/her seat. While the company currently offers e-catering services, these are available at limited stations and restaurants due to logistical issues.
A company official told The Hindu that some of the branded aggregators are reluctant to deliver meals at stations due to logistical issues, running trains, locating passengers in coach etc. The official added that the delivery aggregators concept was to support such branded players in managing delivery from their outlet to passengers in trains. These aggregators will pick up meals, which are booked on IRCTC's e-catering platform, from nominated restaurants and deliver the same to the passenger at his/her seat.
Work With Food Delivery Apps
The official added that the aim is to make the service available at about 400-450 major stations. IRCTC is also in discussions with food delivery apps such as Zomato and Swiggy for these services. However, the talks have not been "very encouraging" so far due to issues, including high tariffs sought by the apps.
E-catering services resumed in February 2021 and since then the average meals booked per day increased from 17,379 meals in August 2020 to 20,000 meals in August 2021. Currently, such services are available at over 200 stations.
"IRCTC is also considering whether we can employ people for the delivery service. we have to see how the payments will work out, and other legal aspects related to contracts, EPF etc. Discussions are on to see if this is a feasible option," another official aware of the development said. The official also added that the food delivery for railways is different since it is not a static segment.