Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been able to set up Jan Ahaar Cafeterias at railway stations all over the country.
The initiative follows the directions of the Minister for Railways.
The IRCTC has been working to improve the availability of Janta meals, Economy meals and popular regional cuisines on platforms at various stations.
The Jan Ahaar Cafeterias are open 24 hours and operate on a self-service model. The USP of the Jan Ahaar outlets is its price – food and other items are available at rates below Rs.20. Service is along the lines of take-away joints. The IRCTC said that the cafeterias are air-conditioned and located in the ticketed area.
These cafeterias sell everything from ice-creams to hot or cold beverages. The food is distributed through AVMs.
Apart from all these facilities, free filtered/RO drinking water is also available. The unavailability of proper drinking water facilities is a problem at many stations in the country. Many passengers do not purchase bottled mineral water because of the price. The kitchen areas of the Jan Ahaar cafeteria can seen because it is separated by a glass partition towards modular counters which will bring transparency in the system.
The facility of computerized billing with modular counters for display are in the cafeterias. There is minimum seating area, may be with 8/12 chairs and maximum area is earmarked for standing facility.
The concept of Jan Ahaar was launched in 2009 when Mamata Banerjee, the present Chief Minister of West Bengal, was the minister for railways.
The aim of this project was to provide hygienic and tasty food to passengers at subsidised rates. But in the past, the Jan Ahaar stalls bore losses at many stations
It was in late 2014 that the Railway Board had decided to expand the network of the cafeterias across the country. The stations with the facility are New Delhi, Howrah, Chennai Central, Mumbai Central, Delhi, Bangalore, Patna, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Madurai, Amritsar, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram Central, Kanpur Central, Allahabad, Chandigarh, Gorakhpur, Sealdah, Vadodara, New Jalpaiguri, Vishakhapatnam, Mughalsarai, Varanasi, Jaipur, Bilaspur, Kharagpur, Anand Vihar, Nizamuddin, Ludhiana, Secunderabad, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Chennai Egmore, Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Thrisur, Yasvantpur, Nagpur, Agra Cantt, Gwalior, Jhansi, Surat, Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Guwahati.