Railways all Set to Wash 'Dirty Linen'
By Princy Alexander | Published: 07th January 2014 09:46 AM |
Bad experiences with bug-infested bedsheets, soiled pillow covers and sheets in the A/C compartments on trains are not uncommon. Numerous complaints have been made on this count and the Railways is all set to address the issue.
In a bid to ensure cleanliness and hygiene of the bedding material distributed on board long-distance trains departing from the state, the Southern Railway has decided to set up a high-tech mechanised laundry unit at the Ernakulam Junction railway station soon.
The unit which is a first-of-its-kind venture of the Southern Railways in Thiruvananthapuram division will see to it that clean, pressed and packaged railway linen reaches the passengers who avail themselves of the facilities. The move is also part of the decision taken at the higher level to keep off incompetent contractors and bring the laundry segment completely under the control of the Railways.
“For years, the Railways has entrusted the responsibility of laundry service to private agencies, on contract. In Thiruvananthapuram Division alone, the service was handed to several contractors based on the different trains departing from Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam. It was noticed that cleanliness and hygiene were often compromised upon which, in turn, triggered the ire of the public. We hope that once this sector is departmentalised under the Railways directly, the service will improve,” said Ernakulam Railway Area Manager P L Ashok Kumar.
The unit will be centralised and cater to trains leaving for different locations from the state.
He added that they have already identified the location for the proposed unit, near the Ernakulam Marshalling yard. Tenders have been invited for the machines. The project will be set up in a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis. A single contractor monitored by the Railways will run the unit for some years after which it will be transferred completely to the Railways. Most probably, the staff under the Mechanical Department of the Railways will be operating the service.
Southern Railways Mazdoor Union (SRMU) president P Unnikrishnan pointed out that as linen cleaning is currently handed on contract, the Railways was unable to keep a tab or punish those responsible for the shoddy work. Though the Railway Board passed an order in 2010 to bring the laundry service under their Mechanical Department, the Thiruvananthapuram division failed to do so.
The laundry system will consist of a washing system with features including pressing using hydraulic press and a drying system. A mechanical conveyor system will be used to transfer linen from one stage to another. This will be done with optimal usage of water, power, steam and chemicals. After the procedures are completed, the linen will be packed neatly in environmental-friendly bags and supplied on the trains.
The first hi-tech laundry system of the Southern Railways was introduced in Salem.
A similar one will also be set up in Thiruvananthapuram railway station.