New Delhi: Days after the Indian Railways decided to stop providing linen sets in trains to cut costs, the All India Railwaymen’s Federation, the biggest railway employees’ association, has asked the national transporter to also do away with pantry cars.
In a letter to Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal last week, the AIRF requested that pantry cars be replaced with coaches, since that would generate greater revenue from passengers. Ministry sources said Goyal has asked the Railway Board to examine this proposal.
Shiv Gopal, secretary of the AIRF, told ThePrint: “Food can be provided by base kitchens which are there at railway stations… the railways does not generate revenue through its kitchen or pantry services anyway.”
A Railway Board official said AIRF’s proposal can be examined since the railways is looking at ways to boost its dwindling revenues.
“This is why the idea to discontinue linen, pillows, bedsheets, etc provided by the railways was also considered,” the official said. “At this stage, there is an urgent need to cut costs, and services that are more a liability than revenue generators can be re-looked at,” the official said.
The official agreed that catering services in trains can easily be provided by train-side vending, static catering units at stations en route, and by e-catering services.
‘Stop indiscriminate outsourcing’
In its letter, the AIRF has also said that “indiscriminate outsourcing” of services should be curtailed, and all railway PSUs should work from railway buildings, not separate offices.
The railways has been reeling under massive losses, and in June, its financial commissioner had written to all zones, calling for a freeze on the creation of new posts, removal of retired and re-engaged staff, shifting outsourced activities to corporate social responsibility funds, moving ceremonial functions to digital platforms, and an immediate review and possible closure of uneconomic branch lines, among other measures.
Last week, Goyal told the Parliament that traffic revenue of the Indian Railways had fallen by 42.3 per cent between March and August over the corresponding period last year, as a result of passenger services being impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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