E - catering services on Indian Railways will be extended to 408 stations from the present 40, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Thursday.
"IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) will manage catering services in a phased manner, " Prabhu said while presenting the Railway Budget 2016 - 17 in parliament.
IRCTC is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways.
He also said that catering services will be unbundled by IRCTC by categorising them as food preparation and food distribution.
Prabhu said Indian Railways will explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional in the trains.
He said that a new policy of multi - purpose stalls as against existing single purpose stalls is to be introduced in all stations.
The minister also said IRCTC has begun the process of empanelling self - help groups for providing catering and cooking services.
"Indian Railways is partnering with NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) to provide support and access to our IRCTC website to ensure extensive e - marketing for products produced by the self - help groups which would lead to increase in rural incomes. "
Prabhu added that Indian Railways partnered with Khadi and Village Industries Commission to support creation of employment and self - reliance in rural India resulting in the generation of 17 lakh man days.
"Indian Railways will continue to partner with them to develop products and services for passengers and also market them using Indian Railway's vast resources and assets. "