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Keeping Metro Rail Clean

How clean and safe are the Metros in India? Clean India Journal speaks to officials of Metro Rail in four cities to take stock of the cleaning initiatives and programmes. Are these cleaning practices and regimes professional and sustainable? Let’s find out

After the successful launch of Metro Rail in various cities, the commencement of the much-awaited Mumbai Metro a month ago, brought new hopes to the traffic congested city. However, the leaking roofs following rains raked up issues of sustainability and quality, and thought-provoking reviews on the “sub-standard structure” of Metros.

Equally hitting the news have been incidents – of power failure jeopardising commuter safety in the Kolkata Metro; of daring commuters getting a man to wipe after he spat inside the Mumbai Metro and of Bangalore Metro successfully collecting hefty amounts as penalty and fines.

While the mass rapid transport system will reduce travel time, are the cleaning programmes and schedules set by the rail operators sufficient and conducive in maintaining one of the most expensive projects of India? Cleaning contracts being based on the tendering process, the criteria to call bidders still replicate what is being done presently in other rail projects. Some of the professional service contractors that Clean India spoke to do not bid for such tenders as “being based on the L1/L2 selection process, the scope of delivering professional cleaning services is impractical.”


“Service delivery in most cases is in meeting the work schedule by using cleaning gadgets and processes as specified in the tender and no more. Such services compromise quality and in no time make the structure unclean, unhygienic and unhealthy.”

“Tenders demand professional cleaning services at unprofessional rates. Hence, we do not bid for such projects.”

Is Metro Rail heading the Suburban Railway way?

The Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation and Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd have deployed mechanised cleaning equipment and cleaning chemicals, and even outsourced cleaning to facility service companies. But are the contractors delivering professional cleaning services?

With Indian climatic conditions being dusty and polluted and given the high human traffic movement in the rail, the Metro Rail seems to heading towards an unclean and unhygienic transport medium.

While commuters now demand a cleaner travel experience, the Metro Rail officials Clean India Journal spoke to, on the other end, seek commuter cooperation in maintaining the place clean. “We will do our duty of cleaning but we expect the people to cooperate.”

Throwing wrappers and papers inside the train or on the tracks/platforms, spitting paan anywhere and everywhere, tossing chewing gum on the floors of the train or sticking them below the seats, stubbing cigarettes on the walls, resting the legs on seat with shoes on… are common practices of commuters. “We have provided dustbins, we have placed posters of dos and don’ts for awareness and we are following a cleaning schedule but cleanliness can be achieved only when people’s attitude towards cleanliness improves or changes.”

Objectively, the complexity of cleaning can be simplified through the synchronisation of cleaners and commuters. Cleaning can be achieved through professional cleaning delivered at consistent costs.


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