Rajdhani food is a study of contrasts. While the Mumbai Rajdhani doles out a royal treatment due to the catering done by IRCTC, and there being a separate pantry just for the A/c first class (refer our previous review), one of the longest train journeys showcases our third-world credentials….and all because catering has been outsourced to a contractor who believes that passengers must be starved. Add to it the fact that the whole train has just one pantry car serving to all which is miles away from the a/c first coach.
The train starts at 11 am from Nizamuddin station promptly. After a long painful wait with growling tummies the lunch is finally served just before 3 pm, and it is no different from the regular fare you get in any train second class compartment. The same potato driven menu is repeated ad nauseum. The rice in this poor-cousin Rajdhani Express is not basmati, and the quantities are miniscule. The same story is repeated through the journey to Goa and on the way back. And short cuts are taken everywhere. All efforts are made to short-change the unsuspecting travelers who have already paid for their food. So the gulab jamuns are of the size of marbles and parathas stink of poor quality oil. The worst chicken pieces are served. Four passengers have to share two serve tables making eating very cramped.
This short-changing goes beyond the food. The loos are filthy – apparently the whole train for its 50 hour journey has been rationed just 16 rolls of toilet papers. There is just one person in-charge of all the cleaning. And the service staff has major attitude problems.
The railways are running at a loss. The passengers are being heavily short-changed. Obviously there is a whole system profiting from this operation.
Fortunately it is the journey that is the hero – especially the Panvel-Sawantwadi stretch which has some of the most spectaculars landscape around. So if you dare to travel on this train, make sure you come equipped with your own food and toilet rolls!
Ratings out of 5
Food: 1.5 | Service: 2.0 | Cleanliness: 2.0 | Overall: 2.0