travelkhanaNew Delhi based TravelKhana.com allows railway passengers to order food online to be delivered to them when the train reaches a particular station. (Hat tip Wall Street Journal)

To order food within train while travelling, one has to select journey data, restaurant and station where the food is to be delivered. One can even search for restaurants based on train station and train PNR number. On restaurant page, it also provides menu provided by the restaurant and place order by just clicking on menu items. When we checked, a lot of restaurants offered orders to be placed one hour before the train arrives a particular station.

The platform accepts cash on delivery and credit/debit card, net banking as a mode of payment. The company claims that it offers fresh food in over 2000 trains and has served 67,365 orders at the time of writing this article.

No mobile site/app?

We believe this type of service will be heavily used on mobile, since many would not be carrying laptop/tablet while traveling. Yet the site is not optimized for mobile or as a mobile app.

While the company also takes orders over phone, we feel it would be difficult to place an order or check out what’s available over phone. Accessing the Internet in train has always remained sort of a pain — typically there’s no network coverage once you move away from a major city, leave alone 2G/3G access.

The Indian Railways had launched a pilot project to provide free Wi-Fi facility to and fro on Howrah Rajdhani Express (as announced in February 2011) at 4Mbps download and 512 kbps upload connection. The official announcement for the launch of the pilot service was made in March 2012 stating that this service was supposed to go live by September 2012. However, the pilot eventually went live only in April 2013. Although two pilots to provide Wi-Fi were implemented on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express and Chennai- Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express in 2009, full services have still not been implemented on these trains. The Railway Budget 2013 had also announced the launch of Wi-Fi service on trains during this course of this year.

Services such as TravelKhana makes sense only when there’s a decent infrastructure to provide seamless service, until then it will just aggravate travelers with its lure of fresh food.