Chennai: In the recent ‘Train Cleanliness Survey 2018’ conducted by IRCTC, Southern Railway ranked top in the ‘Other than Premium Trains’ category. To learn how Southern Railway managed the feat, News Today visited the Basin Bridge Train Care Centre, where trains plying through the Chennai division are cleaned and maintained.
The senior coaching depot officer, assistant divisional mechanical engineers and other staff prepare the day of cleaning and maintenance for each train by allocating batches.
“We have batches from A to U. Every batch includes 12 technical engineers and 15 cleaning crew,” says a railway official from the Coaching Depot Office (CDO). “We have a pre-planned list of trains that will come here from other stations. They are categorised and are passed into 17 pitlines where the work begins.”
On an average, they clean and maintain over 33 trains, spending 6 to 8 hours on each one. Sixteen primary trains, belonging to Southern railway, having over 300 coaches, also undergo cleaning and maintenance.
Every batch has shifts that are timed accordingly to ensure that the trains leave to other stations to start their journey. But what if there’s a backlog perhaps due to technical issues?
“At times when we get coaches that aren’t fit for service, they are moved to the Sick Line,” says the railway official. “The stores department has all the necessary materials to replace a defective component – say, for example, a broken seat.”
In the meantime, officials assign a replacement coach which is in good condition and send it off.
Once a train enters a pitline, the senior section engineer supervises his team of technicians and cleaning crew. “We use mechanised cleaning instruments, scrubbers and chemicals to clean seats, floors and toilets,” says the railway official. He further notes that many trains have bio-toilets, making it easier to dispose of the waste.
He also adds, “Some passengers don’t flush after using a toilet and when other passengers go to use them, they are angered by it. At such times, we end up receiving negative feedback but we always do our best to keep them clean.” He also shared that railways offer Onboard Housekeeping Services (OBHS) to ensure that passengers travel comfortably.
Apart from day-to-day cleaning of coaches, the Train Care Centre also performs intermediate overhauling (IOH). The railway official said according to Indian Railways norm, for every 18 months, a coach has to be sent to mechanical shops where it undergoes complete revamp by replacing defective components and making it as good as new. “But IOH is done every 9 months to ensure longer service of the coach,” he adds.
HANDS THAT CLEAN
The pit line bustles with activity as the cleaning crew, armed with several gadgets such as water pistons, floor scrubbers, buffing wheels, march into the coach to clean the interiors.
Every time a coach enters the pit line, one can see that the toilet floors have taken the worst beating – almost turning black. But once the crew uses a floor scrubber – magic, it sparkles and looks as good as new.
The cleaning crew uses water pistons inside the coaches also. Like firemen putting out flames, the small army of cleaners flushes out the dirt and grime from every nook and corner of a coach.