Indian Railways passengers, it seems, will never learn! From vandalizing railway properties to stealing items from trains, so far, Indian Railways continues to face several challenges in maintaining its infrastructure. According to a Mumbai Mirror report, in the last fiscal alone several items were stolen from long-distance trains including 1.95 lakh towels, 81,736 bedsheets, 55,573 pillow covers, 5,038 pillows and 7,043 blankets. Sunil Udasi, CPRO Central Railway was quoted in the report saying that between the months of April and September this year, items worth Rs 62 lakh approximately were stolen including 79,350 hand towels, 27,545 bedsheets, 21,050 pillow covers, 2,150 pillows and 2,065 blankets.
Earlier this week, a Ratlam resident, Shabbir Rotiwala, who boarded a long-distance train from Bandra Terminus was arrested for stealing six bedsheets, three pillows and three blankets. He was travelling in an air-conditioned coach and was spotted stuffing the bed linens in his bag by the train attendants before alighting at Ratlam railway station, where he was arrested. According to railway sources quoted in the report, last fiscal, items worth Rs 2.5 crore were stolen excluding the damaged properties. They further stated that the cost of each bedsheet is Rs 132, while each towel costs Rs 22 and each pillow costs Rs 25.
Over the last three fiscals, Indian Railways had suffered a loss of nearly Rs 4,000 crore, thefts being one of the major reasons. Last year, on Tejas Express, whose cheapest ticket costs Rs 1,185, passengers stole its Jaguar fittings from toilets, headphones and also left several LED screens damaged. Not only that, last month it was reported that the vandalism and theft caused by passengers on Mumbai-Manmad Panchavati Express train, left Indian Railways with a repair bill of around Rs 9 lakh. The rake of that train had recently been upgraded with new swanky LHB coaches, but alas, passengers were careless while using the new amenities!