BENGALURU: Passengers travelling by AC compartments in trains can look forward to a cleaner journey thanks to the new mechanised laundry to be commissioned in a fortnight by the Bangalore Railway Division. Trial runs are presently on in this laundry with a capacity to wash 10,000 tonnes of linen per day.
The contracted firm, Kerala-based Tharu & Sons, has set up shop to carry out for the job for Bengaluru on 15,000 square feet of Railway land at Binny Mills area. It is carrying out a similar job for the Chennai Railway Division as a joint venture with them. This will be the first time a private contractor has been entrusted to carry out the work fully for any Division under the South Western Railway Zone.
The two other mechanised Railway laundries in for the Zone are smaller in capacity and controlled by the Railways. The one at Hubballi can wash 1 tonne clothes per day while that at Mysuru takes care of 1.5 tonnes a day.
A top railway official said, “The Bengaluru division contract has been given to the firm for a 10-year period. This is in line with the policy of the Railway Board which wants to mechanise the laundry process in trains across the country.”
This contract is on a ‘Build-Own-Operate-Transfer’ model. “We will be providing the contractor Railway land. After carrying out the washing for a decade, the concern will hand over the laundry to us,” the official said.
Bedsheets, pillow covers, hand towels and blankets will be handled by the unit. “It will definitely be cleaner than the manual washing carried out now. Right from the quantity of powder used for the wash, every step would be systematic and automised,,” the official added.
Seconding it is Antony Tharu, a Managing Partner of the contracted firm. “I can say 100 per cent that the quality of the wash will be better,” he said.
The laundry is equipped with 7 washing machines, 2 folders, 2 ironing machines and 3 tumbler dryers. Apart from 40 staff at the laundry, 20 employees will be posted at Yesvantpur and Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna railway stations to collect and despatch the washed linen.
“Our Chennai venture is done as a Joint Venture with the Railways there. This is the first time we will be on our own,” Tharu added. On the cost involved, he said, “We will be paid Rs 12 per bedroll, which comprises 2 bedsheets, 1 pillow and 1 towel. We are likely to be supplied 10,000 bedrolls a day.”
Only trains attached to the Bengaluru Railway Division will have this facility. Trains coming from other Divisions into the City will not be permitted to use it.
Washing of linen, except blankets after every use
Railways has been battling the issue of providing clean linen to its AC passengers for years. A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General that was tabled in Parliament in June 2017 had rapped Indian Railways for dirty linen in its trains and said it violated all guidelines. The Railway Board has instructed that washing of linen (except blankets) should be done after every single use and blankets be dry cleaned every two months but it was not done in most places, it said. It also called for better storage facilities for washed linen and need to introduce mechanised laundry.