Meals on board the soon-to-be-launched Vande Bharat Express or Train 18 will not be optional for passengers, unlike in premium trains such as Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto express, where they can choose not to avail catering services, officials said.
However, passengers travelling the last leg on the route of the semi-high speed train -- Prayagraj to Varanasi -- will have the choice of opting out of the meals provided by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), in advance while booking their tickets, the sources told news agency PTI. The catering charges would not be included in their ticket prices.
For others, the prices of the meals will be part of the ticket fare of the train which will run from Varanasi to Delhi on its first journey on February 15. If the passengers who have opted out in advance want a meal during their journey, they will have to shell out an extra Rs 50.
In 2017, the IRCTC had made meals on board trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto (which add the meal prices in ticket) optional. It was done to effectively control overcharging, address quality issues and to avoid wastage of food.This also reduced the cost of the tickets on these trains by around Rs 250.
Train 18, which has two tickets classes -- executive class and chair car -- will have differently priced meals, the source said.
While passengers travelling from New Delhi to Varanasi in the executive class will be charged Rs 399 for morning tea, breakfast and lunch, travelers in the chair car will need to pay Rs 344 for the same.
Those travelling from New Delhi to Kanpur and Prayagraj will have to pay Rs 155 and Rs 122 for executive class and chair car, respectively.
From Varanasi to New Delhi, the passengers will be charged Rs 349 and Rs 288 in the executive class and chair, respectively. They will be served evening tea with snacks and dinner.
The tickets in Train 18 or the Vande Bharat Express, which will eventually replace Shatabdi trains, will be priced higher than the fares of the premium train.