New Delhi: The Indian Railways has officially declared that blankets provided in trains will be washed once in a month, an improvement from once in two months.
Besides complaints against quality of food served in trains, passengers have been raising the issue of unwashed blankets and unhygienic bedrolls in AC coaches. Facing the mounting pressure from passengers to improve amenities, the railways has initiated steps to provide clean bed linens. However, the public transporter is also reeling under the rising number of cases of bedroll theft in upper class compartments.
NewsClick had earlier reported about the rampant theft of bed linens from AC coaches.
“We have made it mandatory to wash the blankets once in a month. Earlier it was once in two months,” said a senior Railway Ministry official responsible for ensuring clean and hygienic bed rolls in trains.
When it was pointed out that there are complaints that blankets are not washed for months, the official said there is a monitoring mechanism to keep a check on the violations of ministry guidelines and directives.
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Railways provide about 4 lakh sets of bedrolls comprising two beds sheets, one pillow, a hand towel and a blanket per day for each passenger in AC coaches.
More than 12 lakh hand towels, about five lakh bedsheets and over three lakh pillow covers were stolen from trains across the country in 2017-18. Besides this, 56,287 pillows and 46,515 blankets were also found missing from AC coaches in 2017-18, causing problems in linen management.
The official further said the design of blanket has also been changed to make it easier to wash
and steps have been taken to set up mechanised laundry in each division to ensure smooth supply of clean bed rolls. The newly designed blanket is 1.2 kg in weight as against 2 kg earlier.
However, the new light weight blanket is costlier (Rs 600 per piece) in comparison to the earlier one (Rs 380 per piece).
“The codal life (useful life) of blanket has been reduced to 2 years from 4 years earlier as the specifications of the blanket materials have been revised now,” added the official.
Commenting on the frequent thefts of bedrolls, he said, “This is a problem we are constantly facing.
While theft of toilet mugs, taps, flush pipes and mirrors are reported on a regular basis, the missing bedroll items in a substantial number from trains have posed a challenge for the Railways.”
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He said the hand towel is much in demand as it is easy to carry. He added that the attendants have been told to be more vigilant and the contractor will be responsible for the loss of linens.
According to Railways' data, a total 21,72,246 bedroll items including 12,83,415 hand towels, 47,1077 bed sheets and 3,14,952 pillow covers were stolen in 2017-18.
Railways is also trying that face towels given to the passengers be replaced with cheaper, smaller, disposable and takeaway napkins.