Be it ‘Palace on Wheels’ one of the costliest and best trains providing world class facilities or the ‘Garib Rath’, an Express with AC coaches at affordable prices, Indian Railways – the lifeline of Indian commuters – chugs ‘Up and Down’ to meet the varying requirement of its passengers.
One of the varied and most essential requirements of long distance passengers today is clean linen besides clean coaches and clean washrooms. The most-used running towel or bedroll in the AC coaches is a haven of bacteria, fungus and yeast. The microbes thrive in damp environment and on use may rub off dead skin cells too. Such towels can transmit pathogens causing skin and eye infections. Moreover, pale white bed sheets and towels give an unpleasant travel experience.
The laundry practices at IR saw a change after 2009, when it felt the urgency of having in-house mechanized laundries. By 2013, the Railways had only about 21 in house laundry set ups but many of them were manual. Merely 30% of linen supplied on IR had been brought under these existing laundries, rest were being outsourced with poor monitoring and quality control.
With complaints from across zones, IR then decided to bring 42 additional mechanized laundries, covering 90% of the linen under the scheme to ensure clean linen for its passengers. Alongside, it adopted specific best practices to provide uniform results.
PP Singh, ADME- Mumbai Central Division, explains the IR guidelines being followed to monitor the quality of linen per wash.
- Minimum level of whiteness of linen should be 85% after washing given the fact that whiteness of new bed sheets after five washes remains 100%.
- There should be no wrinkles and wetness after calendaring. Hand towel should retain its soft feel and water absorbing capacity
and linen should be hygienic, bacteria & stain free and odorless.
- Linen items not meeting the above criteria shall be rejected and no payment will be made against such rejection.
- The tenderer is also required to provide instruments for checking the whiteness of linen and other quality related parameters as the case may be. These instruments shall be calibrated at regular intervals as per norms or whenever asked to do so by the railway.