Bed linen, towels worth ₹71 lakh stolen from trains

Mumbai: The attendant who argues with passengers in air conditioned train compartments over towels and bedlinen has reason to do so, after all.

In 2016-17, bed linen and towels worth ₹71.52 lakh were stolen from 56 trains in the Mumbai division comprising Mumbai Central, Bandra and Surat, according to the Western Railway. Washroom fittings like mugs, taps and flush pipes were not spared either.

Western Railway (WR) officials say they are aware about thefts in long-distance trains, but cannot stop using branded fittings and linen. “We are embarrassed to learn that bed linen and towels are stolen from air conditioned compartments,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.

While 1,998 blankets were stolen, 2,530 pillows, 14,190 pillow covers, 81,190 face towels and 18,835 bedsheets were pilfered in the year. Approximately 181 steel mugs, 815 taps and 280 flush pipes were stolen from trains.

Replacing white bedsheets with printed linen on trains has not deterred the pilferers either. “We give out the printed linen on just one train, but out of the 1,600 sheets, 125 have been stolen,” said another senior official who did not wish to be named either. The cost of each bedsheet is ₹132, while a towel costs ₹22 and a pillow ₹25.

Officials are clueless about when the thefts could be taking place. “We don’t know whether passengers are pilfering the fittings and linen or whether the thefts take place when the train is on the platform before going into the yard, or even whether they are taking place in the yard. We have tried to investigate on many occasions but are clueless because of the large number of maintenance works and lack of staff,” he said.

Railway rules mandate that every theft on a train should be reported to the police, and an FIR be registered. But there is not a single complaint till date. “Instead of getting into lengthy procedures post the FIRs, we decide to replace it without much noise,” said the official quoted earlier.

Mukul Jain, Divisional Railway Manager, WR, said, “Some passengers take away the linen when alighting from the train. Attendants are held responsible for the thefts and the cost is recovered from their salary. We request passengers not to take the items away, as we then suffer a shortage.”

Once the train reaches its destination, attendants take note of all the missing items provided to passengers. While he has to make good the cost of stolen linen and pillows, washroom fittings are a loss to the Railways.

The Humsafar Express and Antyodaya Express, which were inaugurated over the weekend, have sensor-driven taps and CCTV, and WR officials are sure these fittings won’t last the trains’ maiden journeys.

Most trains come with good quality fittings, but once stolen, are replaced with plastic or low-quality ones, said the official. The Tejas Express, which runs between Mumbai and Goa, had Jaguar fittings in its toilets, but most were stolen and replaced with cheaper ones.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 5:55:28 PM |

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