Nearly a year after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) shamed the Indian Railways over cleanliness and management of linen, the authorities have decided to wash blankets for AC coaches twice a month.
Last year, the CAG, in its report submitted before the parliament, had concluded that no blankets had not been dry washed between 2012-2013 to 2015-2016. The CAG haD collected data on number of blankets in use and those washed during the review (2012-2013 to 2015-2016) period in 33 selected depots of coaches. It found that except for seven depots under five zonal railways, linens had not been sanitised in the other selected depots.
The Indian Railways has a policy to have blankets provided in the trains washed every two months. But, the CAG had found that the railways weren’t adhering to its own set standards.
Now a report by IANS said that blankets for AC coaches will be washed twice a month instead of existing practice of once in two months as the Railways has changed the material to make it washable-friendly.
With the increase of washing frequency, service life of blankets will also be reduced to two years from the existing four years while the pricing is expected to almost double.
According to the revised specifications, the new blankets will be a mix of woolen and nylon to make smelly blankets a thing of the past for AC passengers though it is expected to cost double from the existing price, added the IANS report.
The heavy woollen blankets currently in the use cost about Rs 400 and with the change in fabric, new pricing will be decided shortly, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the task of introducing regular washable blankets for train travellers across the country.
In its separate report last year, the CAG had also concluded that the food prepared by the Indian Railways’ was not suitable for human consumption.
There are currently around 3.90 lakh sets of linen provided every day to passengers in AC coaches. They comprise two bedsheets, a small towel, pillow and blanket for each passenger in the AC classes.
There are about 50 mechanised laundries operational at the moment and 10 more will be opened shortly.