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First it was OBHS (On-board housekeeping services) for the selected long distance trains and now it is cleaning of the rakes in a fully automatic washing plant. At last, passengers traveling by long distance train (especially the trains starting from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Mumbai) will get some respite from the paan stained window sills and doors. Commissioned in year 2010, the automatic washing plant was installed by Pune based HYT Machines Ltd. Till date, the plant has washed and cleaned around 75,000 coaches.

Elaborating the system to Clean India Journal, Dipankar Shai, Senior Coaching Depot Officer at LTT said, “A three-stage cleaning process ensures that the rakes are washed and cleaned appropriately.” In the first ‘pre-wash’ stage, the rakes are sprayed with adequate water. This is followed by generous sprinkling of soap or coach-cleaning compound which is specified by Railway’s R&D department.

Additionally, the sturdy nylon brushes will hold together the soap for a longer time and ensure that it spreads all across the outer body of the rake. He added that the brush “profile” (length of the nylon brushes and their spread) matches the rakes, which enables better cleaning. After enough soap has been applied, in the third and final stage, the outer surfaces of the rakes are scrubbed thoroughly. Three separate tanks have been placed near the plant. One tank has a capacity to hold 2,500lt of soap solution while the other two tanks has a capacity to hold 5,000lt for storing water. In stage two, a cement apron placed strategically between the tracks will collect water and filter it for reuse as water for washing.

The plant uses less water, saves time and requires less labour to clean the coaches. On an average, 10 rakes or 200 coaches are cleaned every day. “Close to 36 trains from LTT are being washed as per the primary maintenance schedule at the washing plant. On an average, three lakh litres of water was being used every day when the manual washing system was prevalent. However, the new technology does the same amount of work with 25,000lt per day.”

Besides installing the washing plant in LTT, HYT Machines has also installed ETP plant for the railways. “On an average, we require a minimum of 25,000lt of water to clean the trains. This water collected from the washing unit is then diverted to our ETP plant. The ETP plant has a capacity to hold two lakh litre per day. We use this recycled water to clean the coaches.

The Central Railway would soon be floating a tender for cleaning the interiors of the coaches. “About 25 trains come to LTT for daily maintenance. At present, 170-180 workers are involved in cleaning the interiors of the coaches. Once the tender is given to the housekeeping agency, they would be doing the cleaning part of these trains and the railway would be looking after the maintenance.”

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