Passengers travelling on the network of the Indian Railways may no longer have to suffer smelly blankets.
The state-owned transporter is working on plans to provide freshly-washed blankets to passengers. These blankets with new designs will replace the heavier blankets that are provided in air-conditioned compartments and washed only once every two months, minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha informed Parliament on Friday.
The stinking train blankets became a subject matter for discussion in the Rajya Sabha last week, provoking chairman Hamid Ansari to comment that under the circumstances, it was better for passengers to bring their own linen for train journeys.
The new blankets — developed by the National Institute of Fashion Technology — are lightweight and fire-retardant, besides being sturdy enough to withstand a daily wash.
“Select premier trains will initially be provided the new blankets but the plan will eventually be extended to all mail and express trains,” a senior ministry official said.
“It is not just about blankets. The NIFT has re-designed the entire bedroll with a new colour combination and the train interiors are also in the process of being modified to match the colours of curtains and bed sheets as a measure to enhance the train-travel experience,” the official added.
According to an internal survey by the Railways, passengers prefer coloured bedrolls to the all-white option.
The transporter has also accelerated plans to set up state-of-the-art mechanised laundries at major stations to cater to the increased requirement of daily washing of linen.
The Railways had recently launched a “take away” bedroll kit scheme for passengers travelling in sleeper class.
Travellers wanting to buy these kits can opt for them at the time of booking their tickets online. They are available at a cost of Rs 140 for two bed sheets and a pillow and Rs 110 for a blanket.