New Delhi: Indian Railways, which is one of the most important modes of transportation across India, has undertaken several new measures to provide necessary facilities for comfortable travel amid the unprecedented outbreak of coronavirus.
The Union Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal on Monday (September 21, 2020) informed that the Indian Railways has stopped service of cooked food and replaced the same with Ready to Eat (RTE) meals in trains due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
He also stated that the COVID-19 related protective items such as masks, sanitizers, gloves etc and takeaway bedroll kits and items, have been made available for sale through Multi Purpose Stalls at Stations.
The Minister said, “Cleanliness is a continuous process and every endeavour is made to keep the stations and platforms and passenger-carrying trains in properly maintained and clean condition.”
He added, “Regular checks on cleanliness are conducted and corrective action is taken wherever any deficiency is noticed. However few complaints are received. All efforts are made by the Railways to address the complaints.”
Following are the new measures undertaken by the Indian Railways to provide necessary facilities for comfortable travel:
I. Provision of energy-efficient LED lights in coaches for better illumination.
II. Provision of mobile/laptop charging points in all types of coaches.
III. Provision of stainless steel seats and partitions, knurling of door centre grip poles, air suspension bogies for better riding comfort, GPS based Passenger Information System (PIS), bigger windows with polycarbonate panes, automatic sliding door system in Air-conditioned EMU rakes etc. in suburban trains.
IV. In view of COVID-19 pandemic and related hygiene issues, Indian Railways has stopped service of cooked food and replaced the same with Ready to Eat (RTE) meals in trains. COVID-19 related protective items such as masks, sanitizers, gloves etc. and takeaway bedroll kits/items, have been made available for sale through Multi-Purpose Stalls at Stations.
V. State-of-the-art Train-set Vande Bharat services have been introduced between New Delhi – Varanasi and New Delhi – Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra. These trains have ultra-modern features like quick acceleration, On-Board Infotainment and Global Positioning System (GPS) based passenger information system, automatic sliding doors, retractable footsteps and Zero discharge vacuum bio-toilets etc.
VI. Various premium train services like Humsafar, Tejas, Antyodaya, Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri (UDAY), Mahamana and coaches like Deen Dayalu and Anubhuti, which have upgraded interiors/exteriors and improved passenger amenities, have been introduced in various train services.
VII. Project Utkrisht has been launched to improve the condition of ICF type coaches running in Mail/Express trains. 416 rakes have been refurbished under Project Utkrisht.
VIII. Under Project Swarn, Rajdhani and Shatabdi train services have been upgraded across various dimensions, which include coach interiors, toilets, onboard cleanliness, staff behaviour, catering, punctuality, security and on-board entertainment. 65 rakes have been upgraded under this initiative.
Some of the major initiatives taken by Indian Railway towards the improvement of the cleanliness of stations and trains are as follows :
I. Introduction of mechanized cleaning contracts at around 950 stations and award of rag picking and garbage disposal contracts at around 1300 stations.
II. Provision of Concrete washable aprons on platform tracks to facilitate washing with water jets.
III. Provision of clean and hygienic toilets including Pay and Use Toilets at around 850 stations.
IV. Use of CCTVs has been intensified for monitoring of cleanliness activities at about 700 stations.
V. Plastic Bottle Crushing machines have been installed at 370 stations.
VI. Bio-toilets have been proliferated on coaching stock so that no human waste is discharged from coaches on to the track. Nearly, 2,44,000 bio-toilets have been fitted in around 69,000 coaches.
VII. Cleaning of coaches including toilets of trains is done at both ends including mechanised cleaning.
VIII. On Board Housekeeping Service (OBHS) has been provided in nearly 1100 pairs of important long-distance Mail/Express trains for cleaning of coach toilets, doorways, aisles and passenger compartments during the run of the trains.
IX. ‘Coach Mitra’ service has been provided in around 1060 pairs of OBHS trains as a single-window interface to register coach related requirements of passengers such as cleaning, disinfestation, linen, train lighting, air conditioning and watering of coaches.
X. 39 Clean Train Station (CTS) are operational for limited mechanized cleaning attention to identified trains en route.
XI. Pest and rodent control of coaches is being done on a regular basis through authorised professional agencies.
XII. Dustbins are provided in AC and non-AC coaches.
XIII. Enforcement of Indian Railways (Penalties for activities affecting cleanliness at Railway Premises) Rules, 2012 has been intensified.
XIV. Standard Bid Document (SBD) and General Conditions of Contract for Services (GCCS) have been issued to improve the effectiveness of housekeeping/cleaning contracts.
XV. Third Party audit cum survey on the cleanliness of major stations and trains has been carried out to instil healthy competition for improvement.
XVI. Cleanliness drives and awareness campaign are also conducted from time to time.