To provide a safe and dependable journey, the Indian Railways have adopted various measures to ensure the requisite facilities to its passengers. The ‘Citizen’s Charter on Passenger Services by the Indian Railways’ commits a peaceful journey with all the amenities to be available to the passengers during a journey. However, there were some pitfalls regarding the services like unhygienic pantry food announced as “unfit to consume”, delay and cancellations of trains, and the most crucial is the “sanitation”. In India, there’re many stations or junctions still suffering from serious issues of sanitation and cleanliness. Not only the stations but train compartments, coaches and toilets are also in a condition one can ever imagine of. As the passengers are paying a hefty amount for their travel in general/express/superfast trains in respective classes, they’re entitled to get the facilities by Indian railways without any failure. Respective Railway boards and committees are set up and responsible for the formulation of policies and laws related to sanitation, cleanliness and hygienic surroundings both at railway stations and in trains.
At present, Indian Railways have changed the traditional format of its planning and operations. It works for an ultimate motive for a smooth journey experience and to provide immediate assistance to the passenger in a serious issue. The latest incident proves to be true when a lady traveling from Bangalore to Bellary needed immediate medical assistance and sanitary pads. As the case was worsening, the fellow traveler tweeted to Railways for help. After several arrangements by the railways, the lady was immediately provided with the pads and medication about 140 km from where they boarded the train. That’s amazing! Also, any passenger traveling in either a pantry or a non-pantry train can order food in train at any station. Moreover, burgers and pizza are also available online within a few clicks via e-catering. It has also taken several steps to ensure sanitation and cleanliness and maintenance of hygiene at station premises and within the coach. Here’re some of the initiatives taken by Indian Railways which proves the authenticity and the trustworthiness of the “Charter of the Indian Railways”, but prior to that let us know which authority is responsible for the maintaining and supervising this functionality. Utkrisht yojana is also a latest project aimed at providing better facility and amenities.
There‘re number of officials in the railway board divided into major zones and divisions. While the mechanical and engineering directorates are responsible for the cleanliness of coaches, the health directorate is responsible for cleanliness of railway station premises. However, overall responsibility is centralized to Chief Commercial Managers (CCM) of the Zonal railway Headquarters and Divisional Railway Managers.
The Implication of OBHS in 1050 Trains: On Board Housekeeping Service (OBHS) is the latest facility introduced in 1050 pairs of trains. Trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi were already using OBHS. This facility is extended in superfast and express trains too. Under OHBS, the train coaches have to be kept clean twice a day (mandatory) and on the demand of passengers. This will facilitate the coach cleaning in a better and efficient way.
BIO Toilets: With an initiative to provide clean and efficient toilet system, the bio-toilet was installed in the trains. These bio-toilets decompose human excreta through anaerobic bacteria. The cost for this biotechnology is around Rs.75, 000 to Rs. 80,000. To enforce a clean, safe and hygienic toilet system, the railways have implemented almost 1.25 lakh bio-toilets on trains. It is announced that Indian Railways will install the bio-toilet in every train by 2020.
Coach Mitra:Coach Mitra is a one-man contact who would be responsible for sanitation and tidiness in railway coaches. Passengers can visit the online portal of Coach Mitra enter their PNR, mobile number and type of complaint. Your complaint will be registered and action for its remedy will be taken immediately. Coach Mitra can be contacted for toilet cleaning, Coach Cleaning Watering of Coaches Linen/Bed Roll complaints, Train Lighting/AC, Pest Control, Petty Repairs
Provision of dustbins in non-AC coaches: In addition to the AC coaches of all mail/express/superfast trains, the dustbins will be provided in Non-AC/ sleeper class coaches. This is done for the proper disposal of waste. Through this initiative, passengers will also contribute to clean coaches maintaining sanitation on the other side.
Laundering Quality: Special steps have been taken towards the laundry services by the Indian Railways. The bedrolls will be washed via mechanized laundry system. Earlier, any passenger in the AC compartment was provided with the bed rolls which weren’t chargeable. A bed roll contained two white bed sheets, one face towel, and a blanket. Now, passengers traveling in sleeper class can also book their bedroll online and enjoy their journey. Spotless bedrolls will be provided by the passengers.
Pest Control Treatment: Pest control is mandatory for a healthy journey as mice, cockroaches, and insects were a serious issue in the compartments making the journey unhealthy. Now pest control treatment is done on scheduled timely basis in coaches, as it is mandatory to keep these rodents away. Indian Railways promises a healthy journey to the passengers.
Hiring Professional Agencies for Cleaning: Indian Railways will privatize its cleaning services. It is in the process of hiring professional agencies throughout India for an upgraded cleanliness service.
Project Swarn: “Project Swarn” is an initiative by Indian Railways which is specially launched to measure the passengers’ experience through nine dimensions. They’re coach interiors, toilets, onboard cleanliness, staff behavior, catering/e-catering, linen, punctuality, security, and onboard entertainment. The Indian Railways is actively working on these dimensions and will soon measure them with success.
Project Swarn: Premium facilities for mail train passengers soon.https://t.co/1PzRJi1Dws— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) February 16, 2018
As per Chapter 3 of the Indian Railways Act, “Railway Sanitation Committees” are appointed and their duties and function are to be decided by the General Manager. These sanitation committees have following duties.
- Conservancy – The adequacy and cleanliness of latrines, receptacles, dustbins, incinerators, trenching-grounds, septic tanks, effluent disposal beds, soapiest, sumps, disposal of flood and sullage water, the adequacy and condition of conservancy equipment.
- Drinking water supply arrangements – Reservoirs, filter beds, wells, drinking water tanks and their protection from pollution.
- Quarters -The stabling of cattle, use by occupants of any quarters leading to insanitary conditions detrimental to the health and well-being of the occupants.
- The sanitary conditions of compounds, court-yards and surroundings of quarters, excavation of earth from any part of the surroundings of quarters whereby flood or waste water may accumulate, the growth of excessive vegetation and of creepers liable to damage the structure of buildings.
- Shops – Cleanliness of licensed shops; the proper storage of meat, grain and other foodstuff; the cleanliness of chopping blocks and implements in butchers’ stalls, efficient protection against flies and the prompt and proper disposal of blood, hides, offal and other refuse.
- Presence of stray dogs and of vicious and diseased animals.
- Presence of any other nuisance, such as rats or conditions detrimental to the health and well-being of residents.