24th Jan 2013
Those who frequently travel in long-distance passenger trains can talk at length about the in-train pantry services. If you've wished that the convenience (or luxury) of home delivery could be somehow brought to trains, that’s just seemed to have happened. TravelKhana.com offers a delivered-to-your-seat service, working with partner restaurants in selected cities and towns.
You can place orders by phone, or their website. The phone option takes you to a human being and not an automated system, thankfully. The only catch is that this service is available only between 9 am – 10 pm. Alternatively, you can place an order online instead. The website is quite easy to navigate around, however there isn't a detailed menu that you can pick from.
For booking meals, you can either use your train details, or your PNR (Passenger Name Record) number. The listing gives you details regarding source of the meal, time of the train's arrival at a particular station, services available, and meal prices. These services include in-train deliveries as well as on platform service, depending on the place you pick from. Once you place the order, fill in your details and get the order number, which can be used to track progress of your order.
You pay for the meal when it is delivered to you, so you don't have to worry about losing your money in anyway. However, the site has no provision to cancel orders online — you'll either have to call up the listed number, request a call back or drop a mail to contact@Travelkhana.com. But, this has to be done at least an hour before its delivery (or the arrival of the train for which the delivery is scheduled).
Considering the "timeliness" of our Indian Railways, this project indeed seems like a brave initiative. To understand the ideology behind this service, we spoke with the website's founder Pushpinder Singh. And here's what he had to say about his startup.
How did this idea germinate?
I realised that despite having so much technology to serve people buying tickets or hotels, the travellers still experience discomfort when it comes to obtaining services on the move. If that is solved travellers in India can travel much more comfortably as they will not be limited by their movement and not be victims of unscrupulous food vendors, taxi cab operators and the like. Food was the largest and first that came to upon to be solved.
How do you keep a track of all the trains and all the orders, in order to keep your warm food promise up?
We have a promise of fresh food. It may not be warm especially in North Indian winters. We track the trains in real time and our workflow is timed with the movement and expected time of arrival of a train at a delivery point.
What kind of response are you seeing for the service?
We are seeing a very pleasant response despite the service being the first of its kind in the market. The market is large and our service is new and thus it is taking time for us to educate the vast majority of travellers.
How many trains do you service currently? Any plans to increase that number?
We serve 70 locations and nearly 2000 trains passing through these stations. As more stations get added more trains passing through them are automatically added.