Taking on unlicensed private sector service providers in railways, Indian Railway Catering Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has approached lower courts. Indian Railways’ catering arm has complained against many companies including Rail yatri and Travel khana for providing food ordering services without a legal license. The online food ordering services provided by these companies are illegal, said Business Standard report quoting people close to the development.
Earlier last month, Rail yatri sought a license from IRCTC to carry out its Railway booking operations after Delhi High Court had held its train travel booking services as unauthorized and impermissible. While talking to Entrackr co-founder of RaiYatri Kapil Raizada had said that the judgement was only related to train-booking travel and all other business ventricals were outside the preview of this judgement.
But, now IRCTC has questioned the legality of its online food services. As per IRCTC, no firm can offer food to train traveller unless they are appointed as an aggregator by IRCTC. All our current and past activities are within the framework of e-commerce guidelines defined by the ministry of commerce, so we should be allowed to offer the services, Swapnil Tripathi, CBO at Railyatri told Entrackr. Currently, RailYatri’s estimated to gains about 20 percent of its revenue stream from this.
The company is currently going through the process of procuring necessary licenses and permissions. Last week, the company clarified its commitment to work within IRCTC framework and claimed to have already made progressed in that direction. However, he didn’t comment whether the firm has an online food license to keep its operation on in railways, as the matter related to food services in subjudice for the last 18-20 months.
RailYatri provides information about trains, passenger amenities at stations, platforms and the speed of the train, in addition to personalized alerts. It also serves as a marketplace allowing train users to order from nearby restaurants at stations. It is backed by Nandan Nilekani, Omidyar Network, Helion Ventures, besides other well-known angel investors.
Whereas TravelKhana, in response, said that they are not aware of IRCTC lates move. According to Travelkhana, it has been under E-catering agreement with IRCTC. However, a year ago some disputes appeared because of some arbitrary clauses applied by IRCTC that went over and beyond the agreement.
It alleged the presence of vested interests in the IRCTC food ecosystem responsible for the decision. This development is taking place at a time when IRCTC has been talking with a food delivery firms such as Zomto, Swiggy, and Foodpanda among many to deliver foods in trains. It has current tie-ups with Dominos, Rel Food, Rail Restro, Comesum, Rajdhani Online Food and Zoop for these services. Two months ago, IRCTC had said that they do not take responsibility for the quality of food ordered from RailYatri and Travelkhana. It recommended customers to not book from unauthorized aggregators.