Men with machines change railway station’s face

Indore railway station is not the same as it was three months back.Thanks to the new mechanized system by a Jaipur-based firm — Dynamic Enterprise – all the five platforms have better sanitation. The firm has a two-year contract with the Western Railways.

Western Railway-Ratlam circle public relation officer Pradip Sharma said, “There is a monthly expense of Rs 10.43 lakh. A total of 103 employees of the company discharge their duties in three shifts.”

Elaborating on the machines, Sharma said, “Currently, 19 machines are being used which include two litter pickers, six manual flippers, four jet pressure machines, two battery-operated ride-on scrubbers, two manually-operated scrubber machines, two vacuum cleaners and a disc machine. The scrubber machines are used to effectively clean the railway tracks.

The move to switch to a private body for cleanliness at the station was a result of the paltry state of the hygiene on the platforms. “We came across many complaints related to poor sanitation and paucity of employees. However, in the last three months, the number of complaints have come down,” Sharma said.

Shweta Maheshwari, a school teacher, said, “I had visited the railway station last week and platforms were comparatively cleaner.”

Vikas Nahar, an advertising professional, said, “I recently visited the platform number five and it was cleaner. Though while travelling back from Mumbai, I found stations of Gujarat much cleaner.

Effort of the railway authorities is laudable.”.” Vivek Mishra, a businessman, said, “I saw these machines cleaning platform. The station, of late, has improved on sanitary standard. It is cleaner than the railway stations in Bhopal.”

To encourage individual effort to keep the platform clean, railway authority under the Railways Act in the last financial year 2012-13 had booked more than 1,250 offenders and raised a fine of around Rs 1.50 lakh. Sharma said that they expect people to maintain highest standard of cleanliness at the station.

Similar services are being rendered by on board housekeeping services for the last three years in trains like Malwa Express and Indore-Rajendra Nagar Express. Sharma said Ujjain station might have a similar system but things are still under process there.

Housekeeping service likely on more trains

Encouraged by the response, railways has decided to introduce ‘on-board housekeeping services (OBHS)’ on more running mail and express trains at the country level. The railways has already introduced this new scheme in all Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto and Garib Rath trains across the country.

According to a Railway Board official, this scheme has so far been introduced in about 300 trains, including important long-distance express trains, at the country level. Under the scheme, a team of cleaning workers are hired by railways to keep coach toilets, doorways, aisles and passenger coaches neat and clean during journey from the originating to terminating stations, he said, adding railways has been incurring huge expenditure on OBHS scheme to provide homely comforts to passengers.

Under OBHS, the cleaning staff are required to be present on board the trains concerned. Passengers can call them to clean the coaches and toilets if they find them dirty and unhygienic, he said.

According to sources, identification of trains for provision of OBHS scheme is still an ongoing process in every zone of railways. Cost of OBHS provision could vary from train to train as it depends on the number and type of coaches, sources said, adding railways has been executing ‘OBHS’ scheme on public-private partnership (PPP) basis across the country.

An ECR official said about 25 pairs of mail and express trains have been brought under the ‘OBHS’ scheme in the zone. This scheme has been implemented under all five divisions of ECR. Railways has been keeping a close watch on the performance of the cleaning workers. He said Mughalsarai, Barauni, Muzaffarpur and Dhanbad have been made main centres of OBHS scheme.

According to Danapur rail division PRO Ranjit Kumar Singh, the division has introduced OBHS scheme in most of the trains originating from Rajendra NagarTerminal, Patna Junction and Danapur stations. Railways has set up a team of railway officials to make surprise check of cleanliness on running trains.