Passengers on some Chinese bullet trains will be able to order food online from restaurants and have it delivered to their seats starting on Monday, as the railway operator looks to diversify meal choices.
The China Railway Corp ticket-booking website and app will allow users who intend to pass through selected stations to preorder meals, either from the train's catering service or partner businesses, such as KFC.
Initially, the service will be available at 27 high-speed rail stations in 24 cities, mainly provincial capitals and major metropolises including Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou and Nanjing.
"The move aims to meet the diverse and individualized demands of passengers, introducing more brands and restaurants, diversifying meal choices on the train and providing richer and better services to benefit passengers," the State-owned network operator said in a statement on Tuesday.
Prices for meals and delivery will be set by food providers, the statement added, while train attendants will take the food to passengers in their seats.
Several outlets are already listed online for some bullet train routes, although the ordering service is not yet available. Based on the information provided, prices appear similar to other food delivery apps.
For example, KFC is one of the three restaurants listed at Jinan West Station for passengers on the G113 train between Beijing and Shanghai. The price for a side of mashed potatoes is 7 yuan (), with an 8 yuan delivery fee. On the fast-food company's own website, the cost is 6 yuan and 9 yuan, respectively.
CRC said only approved brands will be allowed to list their products on the website and app, and will be subject to food safety supervision by railway authorities.
People who book tickets through the official 12306.cn booking website will be asked whether they want to order a meal, while those who book on the phone, at train stations or via travel agents can order later by entering their ticket number and contact information on the website.
On some routes, passengers will able to order from restaurants while already on the train, as long as they put the order in two hours in advance.
Shanghai Railway Bureau launched a service to supply outside food on 25 high-speed routes in cooperation with online food delivery company Eleme in January. Eleme spokesman Zhou Yi said the service was popular, but coordinating with train service was challenging and it was suspended after about a month.