The Central Railway, in its endeavour to provide 23 million commuters each day a “swachch safar”, has embarked on a IT-based solution to maintain cleanliness in coaches. Travellers have to just give a missed call or send text message to get their coach cleaned, says S.K. Sood, General Manager- Central Railway, in an exclusive interview with Mohana M.
In a pilot project that has been successfully running for over two months, the Central Railway has introduced ‘Clean My Coach’ program, whereby passengers travelling on long distance train can inform the railway department to clean their coach over a missed call. The on-board housekeeping team gets into action by reaching the exact coach to be cleaned on receiving instructions through an automated system. This program operational in over 14 trains is now being extended to trains in the other railway zones too.
Cleaning in Real Time
Passengers can message on 58888 by typing CLEAN < Space >< 10-digit PNR number. This system is very intelligent. The number 58888 is connected to the central server that will find out on which seat of which train the passenger is travelling. The database available gives the contact details of all the housekeepers present on that day. The server directs the details of the passenger to the housekeepers/janitors’ mobile number present in that particular train at that time. Simultaneously, one written message is sent to the passenger stating name and mobile number of the person who would attend to his/her complaint. A exclusive private code number is also sent to the passenger which has to cleared once the housekeeper completes the job.
Once the work is completed, the housekeeper will take the private code number from the passenger and message it to the central server in the Railway office, so that the process gets completed and the complaint gets closed. This way, we will get the progress of each and every request that is coming in.
‘Clean My Coach’ Initiative
The advantage of this system is that it empowers the traveller who can now demand for a cleaner travel over a call/message.
This is also a classic example of how information technology can be utilized to better the public service. Railways will ensure that the complaints are well attended to by the housekeeper or cleaner.
The ‘Clean My Coach’ information sticker has been put up in each compartment to enable passengers to instantly call.
On Board Housekeeping System
The OBHS system was introduced four to five years back, but there was no monitoring mechanism in place to ensure that the hired agency was delivering proper housekeeping services. There was no communication channel for the moving trains. By linking OBHS to information technology, we have a closed loop monitoring system even on running trains.
The initiative taken by the Mechanical Engineering department of the Central Railways is being introduced in other zones too. Soon the Rajdhanis running on Western Railway will have this system running.
Besides OBHS, the Clean Train Station system is already operational where a team of 30 housekeeping staff cleans the train outside-in at these stations. This way, the train is cleaned every six hours. This model is more successful than OBHS, as we can ensure that the trains are being cleaned at designated stations and the supervisors are monitoring the activities. However, in OBHS, there is no mechanism to ensure that the housekeeper is on the train. To ensure the housekeepers attendance, some railways have also installed biometric systems. But that again is not fool proof. Now, with the IT-aided monitoring system, we will get an in-detail report on the number of requests for cleaning, the staff attending to them, the time taken and so on.
The cleaning contractors should be sensitised about this system which keeps a complete check on their performances. Clean India Journal can reach this message to the contractors.
Pest management is another major challenge. Initially only four companies were cleared by the Railway Board for Pest Management, but now by and large, it is open to all.
We have installed a waste shredder machine worth `8 lakhs. Within half an hour, it shreds all the wet waste which is then sent for composting. This machine can be installed on mobile vans also.
We need an agency which could also take dry waste from the households and monetise it. We can invest initially by providing multiple bins to households in the railway colonies for segregating waste and also provide enough space for recycling. We need professionals to handle the waste and create a profit model. We can extend this to the railway stations which generate a large amount of PET bottles, paper and other wastes.