If you've ever wondered why the blankets you get in trains are musty and stinky, the mystery has just been solved. It's because they're washed only once in two months, admitted minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Fortunately, bed sheets, bed rolls and pillow covers are washed daily. The minister's reply was in response to a query regarding the quality and hygiene of linen supplied by railways, and came just a day after the Railway Budget was presented in Parliament.
Vice-President of India and Rajya Sabha chairman, Hamid Ansari, remarked in jest that the earlier system of people carrying their own bedding was better. Sinha appreciated the "good advice" and added that the "railways will not have a problem if passengers want to adopt the earlier practice".
However, it wasn't all musty news. The minister said that the railways currently has 41 mechanised laundries and 25 more will be added in the next two years, which would help serve up to 90 per cent of the passengers.
Defending Sinha's statement, the railways said that blankets cannot be washed every day, which is why an extra bed sheet is provided to every passenger to cover it, reported The Times of India. A railways official said blankets are 'sanitised' every 15 days to kill germs and odour.
Indian Railways run 7,000 passenger trains every day which serve 13 million passengers. It has also started a bedroll takeaway scheme under which a passenger can book a kit online—Rs 110 for a blanket, or Rs 140 for two bed sheets and a pillow—and take it home after the journey.