Smelly and soiled blankets on the Indian Railways trains could soon be a thing of the past if the transport giant commits to their latest plans announced during a meeting held this week.
Indian Railways has partnered with National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) to develop designer blankets aimed towards a complete cleanliness overhaul of the linen provided to passengers on its trains.
It has been reported in Financial Express that preparations are currently being made to introduce lightweight blankets made of soft fabric that will be washed after every use.
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Anil Saxena, spokesperson of Ministry of Railways, told Financial Express, “We are taking several steps to make sure that the blankets that are given to passengers are clean and sanitised. We have asked NIFT to redesign the blankets so that the material used is easily washable. NIFT has also been asked to reduce the overall size of the blanket, since currently, it tends to touch the train floor – hence accumulating dirt fast.”
The announcement comes after a string of complaints made against the services, including the state of linen, provided on trains across the country.
Earlier this month, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) criticised Indian Railways over the cleanliness and management of their linen. Accusations made against the service provider included failing to adhere to proper hygiene instructions, which dictate the washing of linen should be done after every single use and blankets be dry -cleaned every two months. In a CAG report, it was said, “Various zonal railways had provided periodicity of once every fortnight/month/once in two-three months for washing blankets.” It was further cited in the report, however, that this was due to the outsourcing of washing the linen as the railways could not handle the existing load.
The move is part of several measures that Indian Railways says it is taking to maintain standards of hygiene in the linen and blankets used in trains.
Other measures being considered include an increase in the number of mechanised laundries across the country. Saxena told Financial Express, “Presently 55% of the total linen of Indian Railways is washed in mechanised laundries. Passengers don’t complain of linen that is washed in mechanised laundries. By March 2018, we plan to take this percentage up to 70%.”