CR hunts for place to keep Rs 14 crore washing machine

Will install 'tunnel washing plant' at one of two spots at Wadi Bunder yard, capable of washing, ironing and folding 1 tonne of linen per hour

Passengers on long distance trains may often wonder why the supposedly washed sheets, blankets and hand towels provided by the housekeeping staff more than often have stains or an offending odour. In a bid to wash its dirty linen, which comes in by the tonne, the Central Railway (CR) is all set to buy a massive washing machine from Spain with a whopping price tag of Rs 14 crore.

Representation pic

The machine has the capacity to handle the incoming load and is possibly the costliest piece of equipment ever to be bought by the CR. The only problem being faced presently is finding an appropriate location to house this machine.

Two plots of land have been identified at CR's Wadi Bunder yard, where a smaller version of the machine is currently housed. Sources said that the area required to install the machine is around 1,150 sq m, and a site is expected to be finalised by the authorities once the Parliamentary Committee, consisting of Members of Parliament, visit Wadi Bunder today. "One possible site is a shed close to the existing plant, while another is currently overgrown with shrubbery," said a CR official. The CR is currently using this shed as a museum.

Far better
The specialty of this 'tunnel washing plant' is that it can wash 1 tonne of linen in an hour. Breaking it down, it ideally means that 12,000 bed sheets, 6,000 covers and 6,000 towels can be washed, ironed and systematically folded with minimum effort and time. On the other hand, the existing linen plant can only wash 2,000 bed sheets, 1,000 pillow covers and 1,000 towels.

Presently, passengers are unhappy with the quality of linen inside trains, which is usually stained and soiled.
"There are always stains on the towels, while the sheets give off an odour," said Chandrakant Mokal, president, All India Passengers Association.

In fact, even officials are unhappy with the present linen situation.  "There is no control over the quality of work done by the present contractors," said another CR official. The railways will be handing over operations of the tunnel washing plant, costing around Rs 80 crore, to a private operator on a 15-year contract.

As per the comparative figures, the existing washing plant costing Rs 86 lakh washes 150 kg of linen in an hour, against the new machine's 1 tonne capacity in the same time. Also, water consumption in the new machine is surprisingly lower.

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