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Clean Train Station-A concept (RTM Model)::

Globalization has changed the way businesses are done today. Service quality is the only key factor for survival of service business today. Indian Railways (IR) is the principal mode of transport of the country. For the last more than 150 years, IR has played a vital role in the overall development of the country and national integration. Millions of passengers (Customer) use railways facilities such as 8000 stations and 40000 coaches everyday on Indian Railways network, which needs special attention towards maintenance and improvement to the Passenger amenities. This is gigantic task and extremely complex.

In his budget speech this year, the Railway Minister mentioned competition from low cost airlines to Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains.  Over the last couple of years, patronage of “elite trains” has come down.  A plausible reason for the threat from air travel is that, the services provided are not commensurate with premium prices charged in such trains.

Low-cost Airlines that is marginally higher in fares have already taken off in big way.  India has an “Upper Middle Class” population of 200 million and about 85% of this travel by train in Upper Class AC coaches. With the emergence of this low-cost model, there is a potential threat that IR has in losing a chunk to Airlines. Passenger Transportation sector will see a new face of India with the influx of low-cost carriers operating throughout India & also with the PM’s highway project called “Golden Quadrilateral”. Even Roadways will become a major alternative of travel in India in times to come. Thus this sector will see a stiff competition in upper segment of passenger travel.

Indian Railways; a public transport organization of Govt. of India having a workforce of approx. 1.6 million out of which 60% look after non-core activities such as housekeeping has one of the most important objective to provide employment to society at large & yet compete with low-cost airlines. In order to compete and maintain passenger related service quality, IR is now looking outward to quality service providers for its non-core activities.

The traditional approach has not yielded any satisfactory results. The passenger complaints were mounting year after year and there were obvious noises in parliament. His Excellency then Railway Minister (Shri Nitish Kumar Jee) addressing on the eve of 2001 railway budget and promised the nation of a Clean Travel in near future. This triggered the thought in the ministry of outsourcing expert agencies to meet the overall objective of public image on cleanliness that was fast deteriorating in last few years or so. 

Under this background, Ministry of Railways comprising of board members (MM, MT & FC) invited India’s leading “Clean & Hygiene” company to partner in meeting their objective of clean travel. In October 2002, it threw open a challenge to experiment on trial basis a solution that can provide a cleaning service delivery process during enroute travel. The challenge was that trains do not have AC power supply available in coaches and conservancy law does not permit manual cleaning of public toilets. The need was to design & develop a “service product” delivery mechanism that can be mechanized and self reliant. The constraints were that entire train has to be cleaned especially coach toilets mechanically while it halts for 15 to 20 minutes on a particular station. The operating situation was highly dynamic & complex in nature. Cleaning mechanically meant engaging trained Labour with portable cleaning equipments without disturbing traveling & floating passengers on a railway station situation. This meant that workers can not board the train from platform side as they were carrying cleaning equipments (230Volts, 50 Hz operated) on their back posing possible safety related threat to passengers.  

Given the operational constraints the company under technical knowhow of CTS Facility Services® then developed a business model by converting a dream into reality by launching “Clean Train Station” concept at Ratlam (M.P.) the mid station between Delhi-Mumbai Western Railway networks. It was thus Railways’ first major outsourced initiative professionally executed for improving train cleanliness on its network while passenger travels.

Most organizations say they believe in great customer service, but few set up a system to insure that they provide it. Delivering great service takes both understanding what your customers want and a way to see that they receive it. It also means that under what circumstances they services are delivered. Organizations put effort and expense into areas that clients don’t care about and even have knowledge about.

To develop this idea (viz.“Clean Train Station”) into reality takes tremendous courage to come forward and undertake a job of public toilet cleaning and a shear commitment towards social responsibility. Corporate Social Responsibility is more of a business strategy that most organizations aspire but very few actually follow. Here was a clear opportunity that was envisaged by a no better company than “Eureka Forbes Limited” who is also known as institute of environment.

The innovation was to create a service blueprint out of imagination as to how to deliver mechanized cleaning services to 18 to 20 passenger occupied coaches during its 15 to 20 minutes halt at a station without causing any inconvenience to its passengers. The entire design was extremely challenging and complex in nature due to unfavorable operating conditions. The product was analyzed on time motion study and processes were understood before implementing on trial & error basis. Once initial teething troubles were ironed out, the results were visible.

Thus a mechanized cleaning “service product” was designed for Indian Railways under most testing conditions. Later this “service product” was conferred with Golden Peacock Innovation Award in Clean & Hygiene segment in the year 2006.

The CTS concept is implemented in two ways:

  • Proactive Approach
  • Reactive Approach

For “Proactive Approach”, the contractor provides adequate passenger awareness activities in order to minimize the filth creation by passenger in & around trains. This shall include message musical jingles on public announcement system on station to be played throughout the day, Signage’s, and Glow Sign Boards placed on every platforms at 150 meters across the length of platform with appropriate cleanliness messages and periodic cleanliness drive thru scouts for bringing an overall passenger awareness.

In case of “Reactive Approach”, the contractor arranges on its own cost all the project resources such as Manpower, Machines, Materials, Methods, Maintenance & overall Supervision for efficient & effective management of the contract. The interior of trains (coaches) will be cleaned, especially toilets, by using state-of-the-art equipment and machines so that least amount of water is utilized with best standards of cleaning and its coaches are dried after cleaning. The cleaning agents used are environment friendly, biodegradable to protect our environment.. The toilets & coaches will be sprayed with mosquito repellent to control mosquito menace. The area between toilets, doorways, vestibule and the aisle is cleaned. The glass windows of AC Coaches are also cleaned. The accumulated waste from coaches will be collected and disposed off to its designated municipal bin near railway station for further treatment.  Water; the most precious commodity  used to clean each toilet is merely 5 to 6 liters only and is taken from coach toilet only. This is an attempt to increase the passenger satisfaction to a higher degree.

Returns on Investment then can be had by signing a contract with railways for 3 to 5 years basis and services can be delivered by following service blueprint. All the facilities pertaining to “Clean Train Station” scheme such as independent electrical power generation and distribution mechanism on each railway track virtual workstations is created by investing upfront to facilitate cleaning operation during 15 to 20 minutes halt. Thus CTS Service Facility System is set up by contractor to clean passing thru traffic.

Cleaning services are very high on intangibility and difficult to measure. To make it measurable, the work output is supervised in process by not only railway staff but millions of passengers as they encounter services face to face.

The service quality is measured with the help of feedback instrument and roughly 5 to 10 passengers are interviewed during service delivery process in each train. This process builds a huge database at he end of every month. The report is generated from the attributes given in the feedback instrument. The quantum of work is measured with the help of score card especially designed for this project for the first time in the history of Indian Railways.

Service Design:

In order to ensure that the Labour employed delivers best quality services they are made to work focused during that short halt of 20 minutes. The train is divided into “Workstations”. The coaches shall be attended on Platforms during their arrival on stations throughout the day from 0600 Hours to 2200 Hours.

The resources employed are as follows:

  • Normally 18 coaches are attended on 9 workstations simultaneously in synchronism in 20 minutes clear halt time. The cleaning work operation is sequential step-by-step process.
  • 3 trained & skilled workers are deployed on each workstation designated as “Jet Cleaner”, “Vacuum Drier” and “Coach Cleaner”. Thus on 9 workstations 27 such workers are employed. Each worker category has been given its workstation no. i.e. from 1 to 9 and their position refers as JC1,JC2,……..JC9 , VD1,VD2………….VD9 and CC1, CC2………..CC9 for fixing up clear job responsibilities.
  • The JC uses ergonomically designed portable high pressure jet machine mounted on its back. The equipment is imported from Denmark using 5 to 7 liters of water / minute at 40-50 bar pressure i.e. adequate to clean coach toilets and remove muck. Each toilet is washed in 1 minute with this arrangement.
  • Similarly VD uses ergonomically designed portable wet & dry vacuum cleaning machine that dries the washed toilets and other areas of cleaning in coach. This is also mounted on back during operation. This process also takes 1 minute to dry 1 toilet. 
  • CC has been given simple mopping tool that is dipped in chemical solution and door area/ aisle area of coach.
  • There are 3 additional workers one each for allied activities i.e. removal & disposal of garbage from coaches, cleaning of AC coaches windows and spraying of mosquito repellent in all the coaches.
  • There is a good amount of competition generated amongst workers category as they are awarded for their best performances in the form of incentive. This also brings in excellent harmony amongst them as they help each other while delivering services.
  • If the halt is less than 20 minutes but more than 10 minutes proportionate no. of coaches are attended. Preference is given to reserved class coaches over unreserved in such situation or situation when train has more than 18 coaches.
  • In 10 minutes halt only 9 coaches are attended, in 15 minutes halt 12 coaches are attended.
  • Operation is supervised by employing 3 Supervisors over a rake. A set of 3 workstations are looked after by 1 Supervisor. Their job is to monitor quality, quantity, safety and harmony in operation.
  • An Operating guide for workers and supervisor is given in the specification.

Therefore the number of workstations required would depend upon number of coaches to be cleaned and halt time available. The cleaning operation deals with variables and uncertainties all the time. The activities undertaken for delivering services in a time interval of 20 minutes is sequential and every second is accounted for. A flow chart to carry out 20 minute operation is given in project specifications.

The measurement of work is done with the help of measuring service processes and each activity is recorded in a score card. Each workstation gang operates in synchronism and the railway supervisor (TXR) records the activities in it. The scores are awarded for each items of the coach. “1” for job done satisfactorily, “0” for job not done and “X” for job could not be done owing to occupation by passengers. Thus a total of 11 items for general coach and 13 items for AC coach is awarded for each train and a score card is filled to this effect. Thus for each train one separate scored card is filled and payment is processed as follows:

  • The payment is linked to the daily total score as well as daily toilet score.
  • The arithmetic average of all the scorecards is taken daily. The payment will be certified by TXR if the score is not less than 75%.
  • The items, which can not be cleaned for reasons like occupation/ inaccessibility due to passengers, is not counted towards score. Also if any toilet has been found having no water, is marked “X” similar to marking of
  • For all such marking of “X”, a deduction of Rs. 2.50/- (Rs. Two Paise fifty only) per item is made.
  • The penalty is imposed if the performance achieved by the contractor is below 80% for 3 consecutive days. The penalty is to the extent of 10% of the payment due for 3 days or for a period higher than 3 days if performance is below 80% consecutively for more than 3 days. In case the performance is below 80% for less than 3 days, no penalty is levied.
  • In case the performance is less than 75% on any day, the contractor is not entitled for payment for that day.

Average cost of cleaning per coach works out to be between Rs.70/= to Rs.100/= depending upon traffic flow on CTS Service System. Higher the traffic loads, less the per unit cost. The traffic workload if stacked together on few platforms only, the cost per unit will further come down. This cost to exchequer is less than what railway was previously incurring; the benefit of which was negligible for passengers. The work has already caught attention of media and there has been an overwhelming response by passengers. Thus the dream that was translated into reality that has received applauds. 

The CTS project is a closed loop service system facility whereby passengers have their say for measuring satisfaction levels in services offered. It is only their positive feedback, which lets the continuity of services. A daily passenger feedback is taken from all classes of passengers & the data & information is analyzed for continuous improvement.

The team working is highly courteous & extends all possible support to passengers if demanded by them. The focus is to provide very best top of the line cleaning services by utilizing state-of-the-art technologies & environmentally friendly cleaning agents. It is presumed that finally Railways have found solutions for its cleanliness problems in trains. A mascot was especially developed for Indian Railways depicting a Janitorial staff sketch with proper tools and equipments running which means “at your service”.

In order to have uniformity of services throughout Indian Railways network, the Railway Board has issued orders to all Railways to set up at least 1 similar CTS on identified stations within this financial year. Ministry of Railways has decided to set up 50 such stations in next 5 years on its network. Parliament is given positive nod to this scheme for expenditure. The budgets to be allocated for this activity shall be under the head 08F-530-32.

The procedure to be followed for setting up similar “CTS Service Facility” has been given in Railway Board Project Specifications that is developed by us under private branding of “Eureka Forbes Limited” in consultation with Western Railway.

Considering an overwhelming favorable response / feedback from passengers, Ministry of Railways decided to extend the “CTS Facility Services” on 49 other stations. With the implementation of this scheme on the above stations it now covers approx. 1500 trains a day corresponding to interfacing with 2 to 2.5 million passengers every day. The media has appreciated this work to such an extent that it has been considered as one of the ways to make India a better place to live in its 57 years of Independence (INDIA TODAY special edition 15th August 2005)

This product is denoted with an arrow showing upwards () indicating train is at halt for some time. The colour fill is green as this was the first Greenfield project undertaken by us.

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