Railways develops prototype coaches for safe travel

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Written by Iram Siddique | Mumbai | Published: July 15, 2020 2:19:44 am

Foot-operated water tap inside a modified coach. (File)

Adapting to the post Covid world, the Indian Railways (IR) has developed two prototype coaches that will allow commuters to travel in a safe and hygienic environment, ensuring minimal contact with frequently-touched surfaces such as basins and toilets.

The two coaches — one AC and the other non-AC — have been equipped with foot-operated wash basins and toilets while the air purifier has been modified to ionise the air, ensuring a non-conducive environment for germ growth, said officials.

The two Linke Hofmann Busch (LBH) coaches were designed by the Rail Coach Factory (RCF) at Kapurthala to ensure commuters have “confidence” while traveling in trains. RCF officials said the changes started with the door handles of coaches as well as toilet doors, which have been coated with a form of copper that does not allow germs to thrive on the surface.

“We often got feedback from passengers that they were reluctant to touch the washbasin and toilet taps even during normal times but with Covid-19, it was further worrisome,” said a senior RCF official.

With that in view, said officials, washbasins were equipped with leg-operated soap and water dispensers. Toilets have been installed with a pedal that enables a passenger to use the flush, while the latch to the toilet has been placed at the foot of the door, allowing commuters to open and close the doors with their legs.

In addition to modifying air purifiers, the coaches will contain titanium dioxide, which, officials said, gets activated with illumination, killing viruses and germs. “It does not cause any harm to humans but does not allow bacteria and viruses to grow,” said an official. The new fitments have been installed at a cost of about Rs 7 lakh.

The RCF began developing these coaches as a top priority after a meeting with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and senior officials from the Railway Board. The two coaches have been dispatched for Jaipur, the headquarters of North Western Railway, where it will see a trial over the next few days. The coaches are expected to be revised based on feedback after the pilot run.

“We have designed these coaches so that passengers can travel in a safe environment with confidence…” said Ravinder Gupta, RCF General Manager.

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