Blankets for AC coaches will now be washed twice a month instead of existing practice of once in two months as the Railways has changed the material to make it washable-friendly.
With the increase of washing frequency, service life of blankets will also be reduced to two years from the existing four years while the pricing is expected to almost double.
According to the revised specifications, the new blankets will be a mix of wool and nylon to make smelly blankets a thing of the past for AC passengers. The blankets are expected to cost double from the existing price.
The heavy woolen blankets currently in the use cost about Rs 400 and with the change in fabric, new pricing will be decided shortly, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the task of introducing regular washable blankets for train travellers across the country.
Since the pricing of the blankets has not been revised in the last 10 years, the new ones with changed specifications are expected to cost more than the prevailing rate.
Plagued with complaints of dirty blankets, the Indian Railways was forced to firm up an action plan to increase the frequency of washing blankets and replace the existing ones in a phased manner.
The railways need about 3.90 lakh blankets daily for its AC passengers across the country. While AC 1st class passengers get a changed blanket cover after every use, the facility is not available for the AC IInd and IIIrd class travellers.
"These blankets with revised specifications should be washed preferably twice in a month subject to available capacity and logistics arrangements. In case of capacity constraints, washing should be done minimum once in a month," an order issued by the railways to all zones, said.
Based on field experience, washing frequency and life of blankets with revised specifications may be reviewed further after about one year, it further said.
Besides, used blankets would be sanitised on a regular basis before being given for further use.
Though the directive is to wash the blankets every one or two months, a CAG report had recently highlighted the unhygienic condition of blankets which were not washed for even six months.
The Railways has also undertaken steps to set up state-of-the-art mechanised laundries at many stations to cater to the increased requirement of daily washing of bedrolls, including blankets.
Our aim is to provide washed blankets along with fresh linen in trains for "each journey," the official said adding: "Efforts are on for improvement of linen management to arrange clean, hygienic and good quality linen to passengers travelling in AC classes."
Currently, about 3.90 lakh sets of linen are provided per day comprising two bedsheets, a towel, pillow and blanket for each passenger in the AC classes.
There are about 50 mechanised laundries operational at the moment and 10 more will be opened shortly.