‘Thousands of seats and floors on CityRail trains, New South Wales’ passenger rail service, have not been properly cleaned in more than a decade’, reported an article by Henry Budd in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph (27 May) revealing the results of a RailCorp cleaning practices audit.
Budd goes on to claim that CityRail has ‘never had a proper process for cleaning fabric seats since they were introduced in 2002’, and that ‘fabric seats on Millennium, Oscar and some Tangara trains have only ever received a quick vacuum in a decade of service’.
The audit also revealed some train floors have not received a thorough clean since at least 2002 after high-pressure water cleaning was stopped due to concerns it would affect the train’s electrics. According to the article, RailCorp staff have been trying to remove chewing gum and graffiti from train floors with ‘just a mop and a bucket’.
The review of train carriage cleaning standards was carried out after the management of RailCorp’s cleaning unit was outsourced to operations and maintenance company Transfield Services earlier this year.
Based on the results of the audit transport minister Gladys Berejiklian has ordered a $3.5 million deep-cleaning blitz of the interior of Sydney’s trains to bring them up to standard, which will see more than 1300 carriages spruced up by the end of June 2013.
“It is appalling such a low standard of cleaning has been acceptable in our train carriages for more than 10 years,” Berejiklian said. “It’s no wonder there are some people who simply won’t catch trains or sit on seats because they are so filthy.”
“For the first time in a decade, modern equipment and better practices are being applied to this task and we are using commercial standards to get our trains cleaner than ever before. If our carriages are clean and we respect our fleet more than in the past, I think passengers will do the same and litter and vandalism will become less of a problem.”
For the first time fabric seats will be cleaned with a dry steam cleaning machine, while floors will be ‘attacked’ with machine scrubbers and steam cleaners.
Surry Hills nurse Sarah Nancy yesterday said that the level of filth on seats on Sydney’s trains was unacceptable, making her wonder whether they are cleaning touchpoints such as railings, handles and poles, where most people touch and thus transfer infectious bacteria from their hands.
Elizabeth Bay social marketer Margaret Welna, said the public also shared some responsibility for keeping trains clean by taking their rubbish with them and not leaving it in the carriage. However it seems CityRail is taking this audit very seriously with a complete overhaul of its current cleaning systems.