Blankets provided on trains by Indian Railways will soon be fresher and cleaner


  • The Indian Railways has decided to ditch the old ‘high maintenance’ heavy woollen blankets and make way for new ones that can be washed twice a month.
  • A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report released last year revealed that some blankets were washed at an interval of 6-26 months.
  • On a typical day, the railways use around 3,90,000 blankets for passengers travelling in AC classes.

If the idea of a train journey through the waxing and waning topography of rural India fills you with a sense of nostalgia, if you are yearning for that hot matka of chai at a railway station on a chilly winter morning, if you think that people who spend thousands of rupees to take a 2-hour flight are plain stupid, perhaps the fact that railways blankets are washed once in two months will make you pause, rewind and opt for an alternate mode of transport.

However, now the Indian Railways has decided to ditch the old ‘high maintenance’ heavy woollen blankets and make way for new ones that can be washed twice a month! This move may have something to do with a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report released last year that revealed that some blankets were washed at an interval of 6-26 months, amongst numerous other issues the report flagged.

Not only that, used blankets will be sanitised ‘regularly’ before being passed on to the next user. (Currently, a blanket is sanitised once in 15 days.)

And finally, the service life of a blanket, which is the amount of time a blanket will be used, has been reduced to two years, as opposed to four.

The woollen blankets they have now cost around Rs. 400 per piece. However, needless to say, this ‘upgraded’ mix of woollen and nylon is expected to cost almost double. But that’s a price the railways may be willing to pay, considering the number of complaints they get from travellers raising a stink about dirty, smelly blankets.

The directive from the railways to all zones says that ideally, these new blankets are to be washed twice a month, subject to available capacity and logistics arrangements. But should this prove to be a tall order, the blankets need to be washed ‘minimum once in a month.’

On a typical day, the railways use around 3,90,000 blankets for passengers travelling in AC classes. And while those lucky enough to travel in the first class receive a changed blanket cover after every use, those travelling in AC second and third class don’t.

Those whose weren’t aware of these facts and numbers may take solace in the fact that the Indian Railways is aiming to provide a fresh set of train linen and blanket for ‘each journey’. In fact, there are already 50 mechanised laundries and the railways plan to add ten more shortly.
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