New Delhi: Passengers may soon be able to enjoy local cuisine in place of standard food currently served on trains, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Thursday while presenting the rail budget for 2016-17.

Acknowledging that catering is an important parameter for customer satisfaction, Prabhu said several measures were being taken in order to provide quality food to passengers.

“The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will begin to manage the catering services in a phased manner. The IRCTC will unbundle the catering services by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and its distribution,” Prabhu said in the Lok Sabha.

“We are exploring the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional in trains. Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers,” he added.

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Besides, 10 more mechanised and sophisticated base kitchens operated by the IRCTC would be added to ensure fresh and hygienic food on trains, the minister said.

The railway is also contemplating to reintroduce ‘kulhads’ (Baked earthen cups) for drinking tea.

The minister said the railways would also make available children’s food on trains.

Besides, baby food, hot milk and water would be made available at railway stations and changing boards for babies provided in train toilets, he said.

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