Keeping up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Mission, the Indian Railways has decided to provide On Board Housekeeping Services (OBHS) on nearly 1,700 long distance trains to ensure that coaches remain clean round the clock. At present, 540 trains have this facility.
In an order issued to all zonal railways, the Railway Board said it has been decided to revise the criteria for trains to be covered under OBHS scheme. This is in line with Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s vision to improve amenities provided to passengers.
“As per the new criteria, all important Mail/Express trains, excluding purely overnight journey trains running between 10 pm and 6 am, are eligible for coverage under the OBHS scheme. The zonal railways should implement the OBHS scheme on all trains qualifying as per the revised criteria,” said the order.
The housekeeping services now provided in 540 trains by the Indian Railways are mainly outsourced.
With the Railway Board asking zonal railways to expand it to all Mail and Express trains, passengers in nearly 1,700 trains can expect onboard cleaning of coaches and toilets.
Indian Railways has also started a live feedback system whereby passengers are called and sought feedback on cleanliness and other aspects during the journey. In some cases, complaints are redressed on the spot.
The Railways had also run Sardar Patel Clean Indian Drive from October 11 to 31 to ensure cleanliness at railway stations and trains. It has also started an ambitious Swachh Rail-Swachh Bharat programme to eliminate direct discharge toilets from its entire fleet of passenger coaches by 2020-21.
For the 2015-16 fiscal, Railways has set the target to fit 17,000 bio-toilets in long-distance trains as part of its Swachh Rail-Swachh Bharat programme. All new coaches would be fitted with bio-toilets by 2016-17, while the retrofitting of existing coaches with bio-toilets will continue.
The Railways has planned a sectorwise cleanliness drive covering railways colonies, hospitals, offices and other units to ensure a high level of participation from all section of railway staff and even society. It runs 13,000 trains on 63,000 km of track daily and carries 23 million passengers – equivalent to Australia’s population. The number of people it carries a year is equivalent to the world’s population.