Indian Railway removes service charges for food, drinks; but there's a catch
The prices of tea and coffee will remain the same for all passengers who have pre-ordered or ordered on the train, with no rate increase.
The Railways has eliminated on-board service charges for all meals and beverages that are not pre-ordered on premium trains. There is, however, a catch, Rs 50 surcharge has been added to the prices of snacks, lunches, and dinners.
The prices of tea and coffee will remain the same for all passengers who have pre-ordered it or ordered on the train, with no rate increase.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) used to charge an additional Rs. 50 when a passenger ordered food while travelling, even if it was simply a Rs 20 cup of tea or coffee if they had not pre-booked their meals along with their train ticket.
Passengers on premium trains such as the Rajdhani, Duronto, and Shatabdi who have not pre-booked their meals will now pay Rs 20 for tea (similar to the amount paid by those who pre-booked their meals). Previously, such non-pre-booked tea cost Rs 70, including the service charge.
Breakfast, lunch, and evening snacks were previously priced at Rs 105, Rs 185, and Rs 90, respectively, with an additional charge of Rs 50 levied with each meal. However, passengers will now have to pay Rs 155, Rs 235, and Rs 140 for these meals, with a service charge, added on top.
"Eliminating the service charge will only affect tea and coffee prices. In this case, a passenger who has not pre-booked will pay the same price as a passenger who has. However, the service charge amount has been added to the cost of meals for non-booked facilities for all other meals," a government official said.
Passengers who have not booked the on-board services on Vande Bharat trains must pay the same amount for breakfast/lunch or dinner/evening snacks as they did when they were charged service charges, with the increase reflected in the cost of the food rather than the charges.