Online food ordering platform Foodpanda proposes to associate with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism, and online ticketing operations of the Indian railways. Foodpanda along with its partner brands, Tastykhana.in and JustEat.in currently claims to have tie-ups with 12000+ restaurants across 200+ cities in India through its app and website.
The association will enable consumers to order meals of their choice through Foodpanda’s aggregator model and allow them to order from a variety of cuisine options. To ensure that the food reaches consumers in the best condition, Foodpanda will deploy its own delivery fleet to fulfill all deliveries. The pilot of this proposed association is being planned to be launched at the New Delhi railway station and after a successful roll out in the metro city, the service will be extended to more cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, and Chennai in due course.
The customers will have the choice to order meals at least two hours in advance of the travel. The delivery will be aligned to the train arrival time at the station and consumers can pay for the order in advance online or make on the spot cash payment as per their convenience. Robin Kalita, Director, Catering Services, IRCTC, said,
At IRCTC, it has been our endeavour to extend best possible services to our passengers. Food forms a very important part of the travel experience and IRCTC takes immense care to offer healthy and hygienic food to its travellers on-board. We are happy that we will be able to offer wider food choices to our consumers with this association and once our pilot project is successful, we will extend the service to more locations.
Foodpanda was founded by Benjamin Bauer and Ralf Wenzel in 2012 and has so far raised $310M in funding, having raised $100M in their last round of funding led by Goldman Sachs in May 2015. Speaking about the association, Foodpanda India’s CEO Saurabh Kochhar said, “Our association with IRCTC will be an offering which addresses a huge consumer need prevailing for years. For long, consumers had limited food options to choose from while travelling with Indian railways but the newly launched e-catering service by IRCTC (approved by Ministry of Railways) is set to change the way Indians eat while travelling.”
A few days ago, food startup Hello Curry had also tied up with IRCTC to bring in-train dining for passengers boarding different trains at Secunderabad station. Like Foodpanda, they too plan to extend their services to other cities such as Delhi, Bengaluru, Vizag, and Pune in the future. Earlier this year in April, IRCTC had tied up with mobile-centric marketplace and payment enabler Paytm to offer the Paytm wallet as a payment option on online train ticket booking.
After partnering with Amazon and Paytm, the government-owned ticketing portal had partnered with mydala in May to provide deals and offers to customers. With Indians apprehensive about divulging their credit card details online, BookMyTrain which was founded in February 2015 offered tickets through a cash on delivery model. By June 2015, they claimed to be doing 4000 COD tickets on IRCTC on a monthly basis.
IRCTC has in the past been infamous for frequent crashes of their website and inability to cater to the needs of consumers. So their efforts to improve the end consumer experience by tying up with various startups and enterprises is appreciable.