New Delhi: 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 air-conditioned (AC) coaches in the last fiscal causing a dent of about Rs 15 crore in the Railways' bedroll distribution scheme.
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, which is trying to provide better amenities to passengers.
Currently, about 3.90 lakh sets of linen are provided per day comprising two bedsheets, a towel, pillow and blanket for each passenger in AC classes.
According to Railways' data, a total 21,72,246 bedroll items including 12,83,415 hand towels, 47,1077 bedsheets and 3,14,952 pillow covers were stolen in 2017-18.
The maximum number of stolen items are towels, followed by bedsheets, as reported as stolen by coach attendants after the end of journey, a senior Railway Ministry official said.
According to the data, southern and western zones have witnessed maximum thefts of bed roll items.
Reeling under pressure to improve passenger comforts by providing clean and hygienic bedrolls, the theft of these items have caused a constraint on its delivery network.
It has been decided now that face towels given to the passengers travelling in air-conditioned coaches will be replaced with cheaper, smaller, disposable, takeaway napkins, said the official.
Railways have already started changing the cover of blankets in some sections while frequency of washing is being increased from monthly to fortnightly and weekly.
There is also a move for increasing the frequencies of washing of blankets to begin with and replacing the existing ones with the newly designed lightweight blankets made of soft fabric in a phased manner.
The plan envisages for improvement of linen management with aim of providing clean, hygienic and good quality linen to passengers travelling in AC classes, the official said.