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Friday, December 20, 2013

Ordering food in train........... pizza to be precise !!

We travel by train so regularly – yet there is an air of excitement of the travel….. to some the food available on wheels is insipid. Not all trains have a pantry car…. and in some foods gets loaded at pre-designed stations….. Can you imagine what map this is ? (what do the dots represent ??) ~ as you guess….. the food on train and perceived poor service takes us to Anniyan, the Shankar directed Vikram starrer with dialogues by Sujatha. In what was described as ‘Kumbipakam’ - a railway catering contractor who failed to provide decent food for the passengers, gets tossed into a pot of oil and fried to death. The latter part of this post really takes the cake (or pizza !!)

Today’s newspapers report that Railway passengers bored by the regular fair served by railway caterers will now have more choice.  It is about a facility launched  YatraChef, a company based in Startup Village, providing opportunity for passengers to order food of their choice.  According to company officials, the service is available in 100 railway stations across states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and in the Konkan route. It is stated that the company has tied up with over 130 suppliers, including restaurants, caterers and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) outlets, for the service. While ordering food, passengers have to provide either PNR number or train number and name and date of journey. Strangely, the newsitem also mentions that railway said that vending can’t be done at railway stations without their permission.

Though I have no personal experience ….. this conceptually does not appear to be new and is live already….. Continental, Chinese, Italian, Mughlai and even fast food, varied cuisines are on offer by portals like, and These portals, who have partnered with restaurants across the country, give their customers the freedom to order food from any famous eatery along the route. The meals can be booked online or through phone by submitting train details or the passenger name record (PNR) number. The customer can then choose any restaurant en route the destination and the meal is delivered at a pre-decided station. Payment can be made online as well as on delivery.

The map that you see at the start of the post represents the food stations of  which started operations in Aug 2012, has tied up with over 200 restaurants and caterers at over 80 stations and has delivered food to about 60,000 passengers. Their web describes them as a meal booking platform that connects train travellers with restaurants on the Indian Railways network and enables train travelers to easily place orders via website, phone, SMS, or mobile app. The travelers can select among the extensive choice of meal types and high quality food provided by selected restaurants on the rail network. Travelkhana’s platform tracks train running information to insure meal delivery at the right time, at the right seat, fresh and ready to eat. Travelkhana has built its proprietary order-to-fulfillment product called “Oyatri”. It is stated that at stations where the train stops for less than 5 minutes, Travelkhana doesn’t accepts the order and in all these there is a minimum order value too.   

Now something on a pizza delivery ….reproduced from Daily Mail of 13th Aug 2013.  It is of  a woman who  forgot to pack her dinner still managed to avoid going hungry by dialing out for pizza. While there is nothing unusual in that, what made this takeaway particularly unique was the fact peckish passenger Lucie Mathieson was partway through a four-hour train journey to Manchester when she picked up the phone. And after two knock-backs, she finally managed to track down a pizza firm willing to rise to the challenge.

The 25-year-old, who is originally from Hampton Court in London, was on the 5.50pm from Port Talbot in South Wales to Manchester, when she and two friends hatched their plan. She said: 'We never thought it would work, but we needed some dinner. The train set off at 5.50pm and wasn't getting in until 10.30pm. 'I asked the train conductor when we were getting in at each station, then started calling all the pizza places on the way. 'Two said 'no', but Joe at Pizza Hut in Newport loved the idea. I said to him "I've got a mission for you" and he got very excited.'

There was just a 50 second window for Joe to deliver the piping hot pizza to the BBC set designer when their two-carriage train - which did not have a buffet car or a trolley - pulled in to Newport station. ~ and it was military precision – Lucie got ready to make the leap on the platform at Newport station…the Pizzahut delivery man Jo handed over the pizza to her during the 50-second stop !!!!!

As the train pulled in at 6.54pm, Joe was waiting for her with her dinner - one deep pan pepperoni pizza, one thin-crust chicken and mushroom, plus barbecue chicken wings and a side of garlic and herb dip. She had handed over the 'dough' earlier when she placed the order by telephone. It set the trio back just over £35, and to cap it all was delivered in exactly 30 minutes - normally the average wait for a pizza delivery is 40 minutes. Ms Mathieson jumped onto the platform, grabbed the goodies, and was back in her seat in less than 50 seconds ready to tuck into her teatime treat. She said: 'There were so many ways it could have gone wrong. We paid over the phone so Joe could have taken the money and not come.

'I don't know how he got on the station - we offered to pay for a ticket for him, but he didn't need it. 'But when he was there the whole station was cheering. By the time I got to Manchester all my friends were texting me saying I was on the front page of Reddit. 'I don't even know how I got there but everyone was posting it and commenting on it. I just can't believe we managed it.' After posting pictures of their dinner on Facebook, Ms Mathieson and her friends became an online hit.

General manager of Newport Pizza Hut Delivery, Michelle Escott, said: 'When we got a call from a customer to deliver pizza to the Port Talbot to Manchester train we simply couldn't resist the challenge. 'The train was held at Newport station, which is in our delivery area, for less than a minute but our delivery driver got the pizzas to the train hot and bang on time.'

Good to read….. but do not adventure to order pizza here

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Dec 2o13


  1. Good article. Apart from Travelkhana and Merafoodchoice there are two more services. One is right from your own place Chennai, and another one .

  2. There is another quality service from Jodhpur Rajasthan. TRAIN KHANA Provides quality food in over 4000+ trains. Call 0-88755-45555 to book your food in train.