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MUMBAI: Western Railway has introduced disposable, eco-friendly hand towels and pillow covers for passengers of the third Rajdhani. It hopes to help curb complaints related to hygiene, beside monetary savings due to the many cases of theft of towels on trains.
The third Rajdhani was introduced between Bandra Terminus and Hazrat Nizamuddin on October 16.
An average of five complaints per month related to linen hygiene are received by WR’s Mumbai division. Another major concern is theft, as nearly 70 towels get stolen each month per train that operates between Mumbai and other cities from WR.
WR chief public relations officer Ravinder Bhakar said, “Almost 90% of passengers on Rajdhani Express have given positive feedback. The balance have demanded more napkins but have not questioned the quality.” Last year, the product was introduced on a trial basis on the Mumbai-Central Jaipur, where a similar percentage of passengers gave positive feedback.
The railway board wants to carry out more trials before extending it to other trains. Bhakar said, “The material used for this disposable product is cotton, but it is biodegradable. Almost 2,300 pillow covers and hand towels are distributed per round trip.” Dayal Mehta, senior manager (marketing, innovation & research) of Welspun, which is supplying the material, said, “Even the process of manufacturing it is totally green, as no pollutants are used and the product is chemical and dye-free.”
The product is not expensive compared to existing material sourced by the Railways. The cost of a conventional towel, including procuring, washing and handling it, comes to Rs 6. A disposal towel comes at Rs 4.75 a piece.”
The cost of a disposable pillow cover is Rs 8, which is similar to expenditure incurred by the Railways on conventional material.
A railway official said, “Most of the time the train attendant does not hand over napkins as these are the most stolen products. The attendant is penalised for any loss of material too.”
Another railway official said, “The hand towels are also the most misused as many people wipe their shoes with them. When such towels are sent to the laundry, the product does not get properly cleaned.”
Rajdhani commuter, Sriram Nair, said it was better than the conventional material. Another commuter, Radhika Shah, said the material seemed durable enough for use a couple of times.