A sweet apology on the train

When it comes to providing service to customers, nobody's perfect. But what separates the good Train1 companies from the rest is their desire to rectify the mistakes, to make things better. Just look at the fine example Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) set this week.

When passengers aboard the Delhi-Mumbai August Kranti Rajdhani express reached Vadodara early on Tuesday morning, they were surprised to receive neatly wrapped boxes of sweets and chocolates with an apology message from the Railways.

Apparently, the passengers had not been served snacks the previous evening, and when Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) officials found out about it, they followed the train carrying the ‘apology gifts’ and caught up with it at Vadodara.

Lalit Sethi, a passenger on the train, said, “We were pleased to see such a reaction from IRCTC. We could not believe that it was happening in India!” [Mumbai Mirror]

Yes, it was happening in India and not without great effort from IRCTC employees. They had to really scramble after learning that a truck carrying the evening snacks had broken down and failed to reach the railway station on time. They had to get a store owner to open his store in the middle of the night, buy chocolates and other sweets, package them and rush them to Vadodara, where the train was due to stop at 4:20 a.m.

On reaching Vadodara at 3 am, they went inside an AC cabin and labelled each pack with a note saying “Sorry for the inconvenience caused to you”.

The staff put the boxes into 18 cartons, one for each compartment, and waited for the train to arrive. They finally boarded the train at Vadodara station at 4.20 am.

Parmar said, “The passengers were sleeping and we waited until they woke up. We then apologised for not serving them evening snacks and gave them the gifts. We had to stay awake the entire night and travel up to Mumbai. However, the entire task was worth it as the commuters appreciated our efforts.” [Mumbai Mirror]

Of course, they appreciated it, adults and kids alike. It's one of the first things you learn in business: Adults appreciate having good service and kids appreciate having sweets for breakfast.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Christ, this is cool! I don’t believe this happening in India.Nevertheless I’m pleased to note the same.


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