If you are on board an Indian Railways coach and get bed linen never used by anyone, your chances of getting a good night's sleep increase manifold, especially if the compartment is pest-free. You might get this happy surprise when you next board a train. The Railways is planning to soon try disposable bed linen, on an experimental basis, in the Bangalore Rajdhani Express. Among other initiatives that the Railways is planning for giving you a "clean experience" are bio-toilets, pest-free train coaches and setting up of more cleaning stations. All of this with a mere Rs 940 crore in pocket? It seems the country's biggest transporter has a very daunting task at hand. But the Railway Board is in a mission mode to make these possible, especially because cleanliness is among the three priority areas Prime Minister Narendra Modi has identified for the country's railway network.
|ROLLING ON CLEAN TRACK Some measures the Indian Railways, with the world’s largest fleet of 53,000 coaches on 7,000 trains, is planning|
| BIO-TOILETS |
Indians do not generally feel comfortable covering themselves in synthetic sheets. The biggest problem with the existing cotton sets, according to Johri, is their worn-out look due to repeated use. "The zonal railways can buy bed linen only from the outlets of Khadi and Village Industries Commission and Association for Consumer Action on Safety & Health (Acash). These organisations, sometimes, are not able to meet the replacement requirements. So, we have asked the zonal railways to procure the sets, in case of short supply, from other sources as well." The Railways also plans to set up 64 mechanised laundries over the next three years to do the washing itself, instead of relying on conventional washermen. Also, the Railways is adding some half a dozen cleaning stations to the current 34 where mechanised cleaning of trains halting for more than 15 minutes takes place. However, bio-toilets are arguably the most complicated part of the Railways' cleanliness drive. A stainless steel bio-toilet set - with six chambers and costing Rs 90,000 - is to be fitted beneath each of the four rest rooms in a train coach. These toilets have a colony of anaerobic bacteria that do not require oxygen to breathe. Aerobic bacteria, which survive on oxygen and have been used in some foreign trains, have proved unsuccessful in the Indian system. The friendly-bacteria technology, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation for use in such toilets, breaks down faeces into methane and portable odourless liquid. This takes care of not only cleanliness but corrosion caused on railway tracks due to human droppings. Though the Railways is installing bio-toilets on both conventional train coaches and the latest Linke Hofmann Busch (indigenised German technology) ones, it is only by 2016-17 that all new coaches will have such toilets. As of earlier this month, 11,800 such toilets had been installed in railway coaches.