(Yicai Global) July 17 -- China's train catering market, which has been subject to frequent complaints by passengers, is finally 'opening up.' Starting from today, passengers of high-speed trains (with train numbers starting with letter G or D) will be able to order takeout and delivery at the railway service website 12306.com or via the 12306 app before boarding the train, and can make payments via WeChat Pay or Alipay. G- and D-coded high-speed train passengers will be able to choose from more than 100 service providers such as KFC, McDonald's and local specialty restaurants. The prices will be the same as those for other types of online food ordering services.
The service will be piloted at 27 high-speed railway stations including Shanghai Hongqiao, Nanjing South and Hangzhou East, but Beijing South Station is not included in the list, the Securities Daily reported, citing public information.
After a passenger successfully places an order, railway staff at the station will deliver the meal to the seat designated by the passenger. However, it was unclear how the service providers can guarantee timely delivery since a train only stops for a few minutes at each station, critics of the scheme argued.
Relevant authorities have not yet specified eligibility criteria for selecting railway food delivery service suppliers. In this respect, priority should be given to catering businesses that have rented premises at high-speed rail stations, suggested an industry insider. It will minimize the delivery time and ensure the food quality. However, if the sales of catering businesses at railway stations grow significantly with the launch of the new service, their store rentals may go up accordingly, the insider pointed out.