National: Indian Railways will stop providing blankets, pillows, hand towels, and sheets in its air-conditioned coaches. The Railways will stop providing bedrolls when it resumes full services, even after the pandemic ends.
Relating to this issue there was a high-level video conference discussion. The discussion was between top officials of Railway Board and zonal/divisional officers. However, a formal decision is yet to be taken.
A committee was also formed to decide about the mechanized mega laundries. The mega laundries are under the Build Operate Own Transfer (BOOT) model across India.
According to a senior Railway Ministry spokesman, the Railways are yet to make a decision. Due to the COVID-19 situation, Railways are not providing any linens to the passengers. The Railways will make a decision after the situation becomes normal.
Indian Railways spends around Rs. 40-50 for washing each linen set. At present, there are around 18 Lakh linen sets in circulation. A blanket is washed once a month and remains in service for 48 months. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a halt in the procurement of new linen items.
The Railways is also not serving cooked food on trains. They are now serving readymade and ready-to-eat food items. These sources will remain for some time even after the end of the pandemic.
In the last few months, about 20 divisions of Railway gave contracts to private vendors for selling disposable bedrolls. The vendors are selling disposable blankets, pillows, sheets, and such items in stations at a cheap rate. There are around 50 such vendors to have set up shops in railway stations across India. A group of vendors in each station pays around Rs. 25-30 Lakh per year to the railway division.