Monday, October 15, 2018

Some passengers use the curtains for purposes ranging from wiping their hands to cleaning their footwear, making it tough for the railway operator to maintain the drapes that are meant to provide privacy to travellersINDIA Updated: Oct 14, 2018 
Faizan Haidar Hindustan Times,
The curtains are washed once a month but with regular use, they often get dirty.(HT File Photo)

Indian Railways is finding it so difficult to clean the curtains that cover the passenger cubicles of air-conditioned Two Tier coaches on its trains that it may do away with the drapes.

Some passengers use the curtains for purposes ranging from wiping their hands to cleaning their footwear, making it tough for the railway operator to maintain the drapes that are meant to provide privacy to travellers, railway board officials said.

The curtains are washed once a month but with regular use, they often get dirty. A few meetings have taken place to discuss the matter and the subject of privacy, two board officials aware of the matter said on condition of anonymity. The curtains may now be replaced by blinds to assure passengers of continued privacy.

“There are two proposals and we will finalize one of them by the end of this month. Replacement with blinds will require capital expenditure and though there is no dearth of funds, the money can be used elsewhere. In the meetings, we have discussed the alternatives and will soon take a call,” said one of the officials, requesting anonymity.

Indian Railway removed the curtains covering cubicles in air-conditioned Three Tier coaches in 2014, citing safety reasons. The decision was taken following a blaze on the Bangalore-Nanded Express, in which drapes that caught fire helped spread the flames.Twenty-six people died in the fire.

Although the curtains were made of fire-retardant material, the board decided to remove them on the recommendations of an inquiry committee that said the drapes may help spread fires.Indian Railways had in 2009 decided to put curtains in the aisles of all air-conditioned Three-Tier coaches to give more privacy to passengers. The drapes on windows remained in both AC Three Tier and Two Tier categories.

“Those looking for privacy can opt for 1AC coaches where they can travel in a cabin. Not only maintenance of curtains is difficult, passenger use them for cleaning of shoes and sometimes as towels,” said the second railway board official.

Former Railway Board chairman RK Singh supports the proposal to do away with the curtains. “Curtains are unhygienic and when we are talking about cleanliness in general, these should be removed first as they are a source of many diseases,” he said. “Because of the traffic volume and insensitivity of passengers, it is impossible to maintain curtains.”

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