FOR ALL THOSE dreading long distance travel by train because of unclean bedding can hopefully look forward to freshly laundered sheets soon. Indian Railways plans to get all beddings used in trains washed through in-house mechanised laundries by2018-19.By the end of 2017-18, 70% of the washing will be done in-house, which is an increase from 45% at the start of the year. Currently, about 60% bedding is washed in-house. Talking about the move, a Railways spokesperson said, “Railways traditionally has been getting linen washed by outside contractors. But these contractors are outside our supervision and we have no control on quality and consistency.So this decision was taken to move the entire washing in-house.
The Indian Railways requires to wash 370 tonne of linen, excluding blankets, per day.Of the total 1.5 lakh complaints received b ythe carrier in 2016-17, non-availability or poor quality of linen together made up 4% of the total complaints.These complaints do not include those made on social media platforms. However, as per the spokesperson, the proportion of complaints relating to bedrolls has come down to below 3% in the April-September period of the current year after washing has been slowly shifted to in-house mechanised laundries. “There were a lot of issues with the older model. Though the Railways is supposed to carry out quality checks, this could not be done many times as bedrolls would arrive at the last moment at a train’s departure time and there is no way to send back dirty bedrolls. Now that the cleaning will be done in-house, we can load bed rolls whenever required and also ensure that enough bed rolls are available,” the spokesperson added. For in-house washing, there are three models that the Railways will adopt.
First is the build-own-operate transfer (BOOT) model, wherein the Railways will give contracts and operators will set up and operate mechanised laundries, as well as maintain them.While they will be paid for the linen washed, the laundries will have to be built within Railways’ premises for efficient supervision. Under the second model, the Railways will establish laundry equipment and give the operation of the laundry on contract.“The machine will be of the Railways and manpower and chemicals will be of the operator. Here, too, we will pay contractors for washing,” said the Railways spokesperson. In the third model, the Railways will establish, operate and maintain the laundries. In all three cases, washing will be done in Railways areas under its supervision.
The spokesperson, however, observedthatachieving100%inhousewashing is difficult,as new trains get introduced all the time, raising the requirement of bed rolls perpetually.“Demand is always going to exceed supply. So theoretically, we will never reach 100%, but the 370 tonne that is required to be washed as of now everyday will be reached by the next financial year,” added the spokesperson. The load on in-house laundry might come down incase the carrier’s plans to introduce takeaway bed kits, as reported by FE , finds takers. The scheme is likely to be finalised by theendofDecember.