Jul 4, 2018

No more face Towels in AC Coaches! Indian Railways to replace them with cheaper, disposable napkins

The face towels given to the passengers travelling in air-conditioned coaches will be replaced with cheaper, smaller, disposable, takeaway napkins, according to an order issued by the Railway Board. The Indian Railways has decided to replace face towels in its air conditioned coaches with cheap, disposable napkins.

Facing flak over train delays and the services provided by the staff, the railways is now focussing on making the travel experience better for the passengers. Months after ordering all the zones to give nylon blankets to those travelling in AC coaches, the Railway Board now wants cotton-rich, non-woven face towels for them. While the existing towels measure 52 cm x 40 cm, the new ones will be smaller at 40 cm x 30 cm.

While the cost of the face towels currently given to the passengers, including procurement cost and washing, comes to around Rs 3.53 per piece, the board, in a letter written to the general managers of all the railway zones on June 26, has said the new napkins are expected to cost less as those will be ordered in bulk and will be smaller in size.

The decision has come almost a year after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) rapped the Railways over cleanliness and management of linen.

The criticism spurred Railways to take a series of steps to improve hygiene in coaches and railway stations. Just recently Railways has decided to wash blankets of AC coaches twice a month instead of existing practice of once in two months.

However, hygiene may not be the only reason why Railways decided to replace face towels. As per a November 2017 report, the Mumbai division of Western Railways itself saw 70 towels getting stolen each month per train that operates between Mumbai and other cities from WR.

The cost of the bedroll is included in the ticket fare for those travelling in AC coaches. “The new towels will be environment-friendly and made of cotton to absorb more water,” a railway official said. Two such napkins per bedroll will be provided during long journeys, if required.

In 2016-17, bed linen and towels worth Rs 71.52 lakh were stolen from 56 trains in the Mumbai division comprising Mumbai Central, Bandra and Surat, The Hindu had reported in August last year quoting Western Railways officials. This included 81,190 face towels.

Other divisions of Railways have so far not revealed their losses due to such thefts – the losses could be in crores considering it has 16 divisions including Central, Northen and Easter Railway divisions which see as much passesngers as the Western division.

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