NEW DELHI: Next time you take a train ride in the air-conditioned compartment, beware of the blanket the linen man gets you. Chances are, that the blanket might not have been cleaned in the last two months.
While Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in his Railway Budget on Thursday focused on cleanliness, the statement by his junior minister Manoj Sinha in Rajya Sabha a day later, left everyone worried on Friday. MoS Railways Sinha, during Question Hour, said that while bed sheets, bedroll and pillow covers are washed every day, blankets are washed only every two months.
Sinha was replying to questions raised by various members regarding the quality and hygiene of laundry and linen supplied by the Railways on trains.
Even Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari quipped on the revelation and said that the earlier system of passengers bringing their own linen and pillows for train journeys was perhaps better. A Congress MP asked Sinha if this would be allowed.
“It was good advice and the Railways will not have a problem if passengers want to revert to the earlier practice,” said Sinha.
Sinha, however, explained that there are 41 mechanised laundries and plans are underway to increase it by 25 in the next two years so that these can serve about 85 per cent of the passengers who use railway linen and bed sheets.
Meanwhile, Northern Railways has been providing blanket cover in AC-1 coaches in all trains.
Vidushi Bhatia, a 26-year-old marketing executive who frequently uses overnight trains, said she will never again use blankets provided by the Railways. “I don’t want to get any skin disease due to such dirty blankets. I can’t afford to not use Railways but never again I will use those blankets,” she says.