“IRCTC has always been a pioneer and doing very well in religious and mass tourism. That has been our forte and we will continue to do the work. That service will be there and with the upcoming Bharat Gaurav Policy, we would be coming up with many theme based circuits,” says Rajni Hasija, Chairman & MD,
After Covid, you have seen a lot of development. The number of people travelling by train has gone up and your responsibility has also escalated a lot. How would you like to analyse all this?
Passenger requirement has always been of prime importance. When we started serving cooked food, we had a humble beginning but later on we picked up. As of now, more than 417 trains with pantry cars are there and in this particular kitchen, we are cooking nearly 8,000 to 10,000 meals and loading that in the trains. A major portion is cooked on ground and then packed and then loaded.
This has been for the Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains and there is a specified menu in that. Accordingly, the meals are loaded and that consistency is maintained, weight is also maintained, You can see that they are weighting it also. There is a lot of responsibility on our shoulders because we have to provide good food to customers and there are glitches at times but we have to set them right also.
Recently you have been allowed to customise the food menu and tariffs as well. How is the decision going to benefit IRCTC and the passengers as well?
It is going to benefit both. One, there are going to be a lot of options available for the customers. They can pick a meal of their choice. Normally, for Rajdhani and Shatabdi, there used to be two options – veg and non-veg and then no food. So one gain for IRCTC is that where the no option is there, that will be converted into an option and food will also be available with others and other than the standard meal they get in the train, the other option will also be there in the train.
What about revenue since the tariff part will also be with IRCTC?
Once the tendering happens, there is going to be some better business opportunity for them. So there is going to be some increase in the license fee as far as the revenue is concerned. IRCTC and railways both are benefitting but we will still have to see the impact on tendering.
Sameer Dixit: There were talks that you will be increasing the Rail Neer plants for packaged drinking water. When can we see some new plants coming in from the IRCTC side?
Rajni Hasija: As of now, our capacity is to produce nearly 15.4 lakh litre of water a day. With the new plants coming up, our capacity is going to be as high as nearly 18.5 lakh litres and we are also in the process of doing the analysis again.
The upcoming plant is going to be there in a month or so and we will be reaching 16.5 lakh litre capacity and by end of FY23,we will be able to generate nearly 18 lakh bottles a day.
In addition to this, the e-catering aspect of IRCTC is also doing quite well. Any specific number that you are looking to reach by this year-end?
With a humble beginning of 21,000 pre-Covid level, our balance went down to as low as 8,000. Now we have gone up to nearly 37,000 meals a day. On peak days, we have booked nearly 58,000 meals a day also. In this financial year, we should be able to book around one lakh meals a day.
There are a couple of tour packages that are going quite well for IRCTC. What all sectors are you looking at to come up with new tour packages?
IRCTC has always been a pioneer and doing very well in religious and mass tourism. That has been our forte and we will continue to do the work. That service will be there and with the upcoming Bharat Gaurav Policy, we would be coming up with many theme based circuits. We would be running Jyotirlinga circuit, Ramayana circuit, Jain circuit and we are working on other circuits also. That is going to be our mass tourism forte.
You are also in talks with some states for trains?
The state welfare schemes are there and we are talking to the states and doing MoU with them. We are running trains for Rajasthan, Goa and Madhya Pradesh. With many other stateswe are in talks.
You are also planning to come up with new budget hotels. What are the existing numbers? What more can we see in the next couple of years?
Four hotels are existing. We have a BNR Hotel in Ranchi and one in Puri. These are two heritage hotels and we have Rail Yatri Niwas in Delhi and one in Howrah. These are already running.