The Indian Railways may stop providing blankets, pillows, hand towels and sheets in its air-conditioned coaches when it resumes full services, even after the pandemic ends, according to a report in the Indian Express.
While a formal decision is yet to be taken, the report says the issue was discussed at a high-level video conference between Railway Board top brass and zonal and divisional officials earlier this week.
The report adds, a committee is being formed to decide what to do with the mechanised mega laundries, set up to wash the linen under the Build-Operate-Own-Transfer model across India.
The Railways is estimated to spend Rs 40-50 for washing each linen set. According to estimates, there are about 18 lakh linen sets in circulation at present. A blanket remains in service for about 48 months, and is washed once a month. At present no new linen items are being procured, says the report.
Apart from the cost involved, linen sets, especially blankets and sheets, have been a regular cause of passenger complaints.
Over the last few months, about 20 railway divisions have given contracts to private vendors for selling disposable blankets, pillows and sheets at stations at cheap prices.