Train rides are fun but the food on board isn’t. Bored of bread omelette...the watery gravy, uncooked rotis and sour curd doesn’t appeal to you? So, what do you do? Pack paranthas from home…or just turn to TravelKhana or Merafoodchoice for help. Both portals, like knights in shining armour, come to the rescue of travellers who are disgusted with food the pantry on trains serves.
Started in 2012 by Pushpinder Singh, a software technologist, travelkhana.com is a portal that allows travellers on train to order food and it’s delivered to them at a pre-decided station. 'Technology helped as far as booking tickets and hotels were concerned. So we set out to solve the problem of unavailability of good food on trains,' says Singh.
If you want paneer and roti or fried rice or whatever your palate feels like, all you’ve got to do is log onto to the website and fill in a few details such as your train number and PNR no. There is the option of paying online or when the food is delivered to you. And no, there isn’t the risk of your food turning cold, soggy or tasteless because the portal continuously tracks the train and knows when it’s about to reach the pre-decided station.
Based out of New Delhi, travelkhana covers around 100 stations including Bhopal Junction, Pune Junction, Howrah Junction and Amritsar Junction and lesser known ones such as, Ratlam Junction, Rourkela, Alwar Junction, Pipariya, Raipur…' Our services will be available in Chennai within the next eight to 10 weeks,' he adds. It has tied up with 240 outlets across the country and has delivered around 63,000 orders till date. Singh plans to expand and reach out to bus travellers as well.
And is there a risk of stepping on the Railway’s toes? While Singh says there is no such possibility as they work closely with the Railways, Piyush Kasliwal who started merafoodchoice says, 'Indian Railway’s train food business sees a turnover of more than Rs. 2,000 crores annually. We are hardly a patch on them and therefore no threat to them.'
Kasliwal who was earlier working with Mahindra Sathyam and spent a lot of time travelling between his home town Nashik to Hyderabad and Bangalore. It was during these trips that he came up with the idea. 'People also complain that the price being charged on the train is more than the stipulated amount,' he adds.
Kasliwal started this venture last year and has so far catered to around 30,000 clients. Headquartered in Nashik, they have delivered to 130 locations across the country. 'We have tied up with 200 restaurants and we serve only vegetarian food,' he says. MFC is a 20-member strong team whose aim is to provide fresh food to travellers. 'The food we deliver is freshly prepared by the restaurants. The cut off time is one hour.'
Well then, what’s it going to be the next time you travel? Butter chicken, ghee roast or a thali…?
For details, log on to www.travelkhana.com or call: 08800138811;
www.merafoodchoice.com or call: 08484848426