Nagpur: Passengers travelling in trains never have good words about the quality of food being served through pantry cars. Though a series of efforts were initiated in the past to remove this tag, all went in vain. Now in yet another bid to ensure food quality and check malpractices related to catering services on trains, the Railway Board has redefined duties of travelling ticket examiners (TTEs) who will now supervise these services as well.
Catering services aboard trains have always left a bad taste in the mouth for passengers owing to poor quality food and overcharging. Though the renewed duty list is for TTEs in all air-conditioned coaches, catering services is common for all coaches and hence ticket checking staff’s intervention will ensure better service for passengers in all coaches.
“In order to achieve greater control over activities related to on-board catering and provide real time assistance to passengers, duties of ticket checking staff have been redefined,” said a Central Railway official.
This is third revision of TTEs duties since 1998 considering changing times. As per new circular, TTEs will supervise coach attendants, amenities, electric and catering staff too. The ticket checking staff has been told to maintain a complaint book in their custody and make the same available to passengers. TTEs should ensure prompt action against complaints and render satisfactory service to them.
The Railway Board says TTEs will have to check catering with respect to quality and quantity of food, cleanliness of uniform and utensils, behaviour of manager and bearers, production of vouchers by the bearers, timely meal service, and proper vending of tea, coffee, snacks, and cold drinks.
In event poor food quality, pantry car manager will have to maintain a separate complaint book. The TTEs will also have to see that price menu is displayed prominently in the pantry cars and elsewhere in the train and material is sold at MRP. He will have to check that catering staff invariably carry with them menu card with prices and it should be produced on demand by passengers.
However, the Indian Railways Ticket Checking Staff Organization (IRTCSO) has termed the Railway Board move as impractical. The decision should have been taken after talks with IRTCSO office-bearers, it said.
“We will meet railway minister Suresh Prabhu against the new duties,” IRTCSO president Dr Mukesh Gautam said. The new circular also entrusts TTEs with safety and security of passenger luggage. “This is something which has to be done by GRP and RPF. If RPF curbs illegal vendors, they will not enter trains,” he added.
Dr Gautam felt TTEs were not technical persons to handle electric and carriage & wagon staff. Though TTEs play role of facilitators, they should not be held responsible for the mess created by other departments. IRTCSO chief said there is shortage of TTEs and 2-3 ticket checking staff man the entire train. Besides, over 1,000 ticket checking employees retire annually widening the gap.
Under the duty schedule, TTEs also have to see coaches are latched during night. They have also been told to carry blank FIR forms in case of luggage thefts. Dr Gautam said already responsibilities of TTEs had increased as trains were overcrowded round the year.
Ritu Bajaj, secretary of Bharatiya Yatri Kendra’s (BYK) ladies wing, termed the move passenger-friendly. “TTEs only check tickets. There is no one to look into passengers woes. There are unauthorized passengers in all coaches. There should be someone accountable,” she said.