After the CAG rap, the Railways has begun the process of doing away with providing blankets in AC compartments and is instead regulating the temperature inside the coaches so that passengers don’t shiver.
The ‘no-blankets rule’ has now been implemented in the third AC coach of the Jammu Mail, a senior official of the railway ministry said.
“The ministry has started the process of gathering data from passengers on the viability of not having blankets on trains. Once we find how many of them ask for blankets and how many say that they can do without these, we will come to a decision about replicating the project in other trains,” the official said.
The railways is using thermal control and regulating the temperature in the third AC compartment of the Delhi-Jammu train to around 24-26 degree Celsius from the current 19 degrees so that passengers are comfortable and do not need blankets.
The step to phase out blankets from trains was taken after severe criticism from the Comptroller and Auditor General in its report recently about dirty blankets and bedrolls.
Senior officials said that eventually the plan is to replace blankets with cotton sheets which would be enough for passengers given the revised temperatures being maintained in the compartments.
The no-blanket move would also be more economical for the Railways — it takes Rs 55 to clean the bedroll while passengers are charged just Rs 22 for it.
However, officials said blankets will be carried in the trains in case these are needed by passengers.
Railways offer blankets with covers in AC coaches after CAG picks holes in hygiene levels
Responding to a CAG report questioning the hygiene and cleanliness levels of bedrolls in trains, the Indian Railways has started providing blankets with covers in the first-class air conditioned compartments.
A Business Standard report, over the weekend, had suggested the railways could do away with blanketsaltogether as the costs of getting the laundry cleaned was not economical, as also monitoring hygiene standards for the linen was difficult due to absence of quality checks at departmental mechanised laundries.
“We now provide blankets with covers in AC first class. The service has been started in all the major railways’ divisions. By the end of this month, the service will be available across all divisions. These covers will be washed daily,” said railways spokesperson Anil Saxena.
Railways was also said to be considering raising the temperature to 24 degrees from 19 degrees to avoid providing blankets. Saxena clarified “We are looking into its feasibility and practicability.”
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had pointed out that norms pertaining to maintaining cleanliness standard of the laundry were not being followed. While guidelines stipulated by the railways require the linen to be washed after every use and dry-cleaned every two months, it was not being done.