New Delhi: In a bid to provide better catering services in a hygienic environment, the railways will start pilot projects involving international catering companies in premium trains, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi said on Wednesday.

"A pilot project will be launched on a few premium trains to introduce international expertise on Indian Railways for catering services," Trivedi told the Lok Sabha while presenting his ministry's budget for the next fiscal.

According to Trivedi, international companies providing catering services will be engaged in the project through global tenders route."I therefore propose that reputed professional agencies which are providing such services internationally be engaged through global tenders for pantry cars and base kitchens under departmental supervision and management.

"Trivedi said there was need for urgent change in railways' approach towards catering and improvements in the service were a priority for his ministry."The need for visible improvements in the service through pantry cars and base kitchens is a priority since expectations of young India are high and they expect services especially on premium trains, to be of international standards."Trivedi, a member of the Trinamool Congress, said he was concerned about the standards of hygiene and cleanliness around railway facilities like stations and housekeeping on trains.

"I propose to set up a specialised housekeeping body to take care of both, stations and the trains. I am not prepared to accept the situation as it is now and all out efforts would be made to improve the standards of cleanliness and hygiene on trains and at the stations within the next six months."Trivedi added that shoddy standards of hygiene and cleanliness had given a 'bad name' to the Indian Railways.