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Coronavirus Free Passenger Journey: Indian Railways Prepare For The ‘New Normal’, Design First ‘Post COVID Coach’

A look inside Indian Railways first post-COVID coach designed to provide safe journey to its passengers in the era of Coronavirus

Coronavirus Free Passenger Journey Indian Railways Prepare For The ‘New Normal’, Design First ‘Post COVID Coach’
  • Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala has designed post COVID coach
  • The coach provides facilities like foot operated doors, air purification
  • Lavatories have foot operated soap/water dispenser, flush valve installed

New Delhi: “Make no mistake: we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time”, the World Health Organisation had clarified earlier in May and has time and again reiterated to not take Novel Coronavirus lightly. While SARS-CoV-2 causing the contagious disease COVID-19 is here to stay, the world needs to adapt to the new normal which includes wearing a face mask, practising hand hygiene and social distancing, among others. Indian Railways is gearing up for the ‘new normal’ by designing a ‘post COVID coach’. To contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 during post COVID-19 travel, Indian Railways has introduced hands free amenities, copper-coated handrails, among others.

The state of art coach has been designed by Indian Railways’ production unit, Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala. Sharing the news on social media, Minister of Railways and Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal said, ‘future ready railway’.

Salient Features Of Post-COVID Railway Coach

Hands Free Amenities

We touch numerous surfaces that may or may not have a virus on them. An individual can pick up the virus by touching doorknobs, taps, and other surfaces. In an effort to eliminate indirect transmission of Novel Coronavirus, Railways has switched to foot operated devices.

In lavatories, foot operated soap and water dispenser, and flush valve have been installed. The same concept has been replicated in the outer washbasin. Doors of lavatories have also been made contactless by fitting foot operated latches and push bar.

Coronavirus Free Passenger Journey Indian Railways Prepare For The ‘New Normal’, Design First ‘Post COVID Coach’

Indian Railways has installed foot operated flush valve in post COVID coach

The use of hands has been further reduced with the help of forearm operated handles put on the compartment door. For easier and safer access, Railways has put up instructions as well.

Also Read: Indian Railways On COVID-19 Duty: Train Coaches To Be Converted Into COVID-19 Care Centre At 215 Stations

Copper Coated Handrails And Latches

When you board a train, the first thing you touch is handrail fixed on both the sides of the gate. You have to hold it get on to the train. Similarly, a passenger touches other surfaces. To ensure, handrails and latches are virus free, they have been coated with copper, explained Ravinder Gupta, General Manager, Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, in a video posted on social media.

Coronavirus Free Passenger Journey Indian Railways Prepare For The ‘New Normal’, Design First ‘Post COVID Coach’

Handrails and latches have been coated with copper to kill the Coronavirus

Explaining the use of copper, in a document, Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, has stated,

Copper degrades the virus landed on it within few hours. Copper has anti-microbial properties. When the virus lands on copper, Ion blasts pathogen and destroys the DNA and RNA inside the virus.

In March, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine analysed the aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 and compared it with SARS-CoV-1, the most closely related human coronavirus. It stated that Coronavirus can survive on copper for about four hours.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak: How Long The Novel Virus Lives On Surfaces Like Cardboard, Plastic, And Steel, Experts Explain

Copper has great inactivation capability on the virus but it will take a few hours (three to four) compared to other surfaces like plastic, metal, stainless steel, fabric where the virus lives for a longer duration. But copper does degrade the virus faster than any other surface, said, Sai Prasanth, Chief Executive Officer, Muse Wearables, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras incubated start-up.

Researchers at Punjab University and Muse Wearables have developed antiviral nano-coating spray and antiviral nano-coated textile. For the same, they had developed specific engineered nano-particles which have similar capabilities of copper apart from two additional properties that help in inactivating the virus within a few minutes upon contact.

Also Read: Fight Against COVID-19: An Innovation To Make Masks And Protective Gear Reusable

Plasma Air Purification

Post COVID coach also has a provision of plasma air equipment in AC duct that will sterilise air and surfaces inside the AC coach using ionised air. This has been done to make the coach COVID-19 and particulate matter resistant, reads a document issued by Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala.

Talking about the same, Mr Prasanth said,

This might be effective. If high positive charge air is available then it will attract negative protein of the virus to come out of its cell and thus the virus gets killed. It depends on the concentration of the ions and what’s effective on the virus.

According to the information shared by Railways, ion concentration has been improved from 100 ions/cm3 to more than 6000 ions/cm3.

Also Read: Northeast Frontier Railway Adopts Six-Pronged Strategy To Combat COVID-19 Crisis

Titanium Di-oxide Coating

Nanostructured titanium di-oxide coating has been applied on washbasins, lavatory, seats and berths, snack table, glass window, floor, virtually every surface that comes in human contact.

Titanium di-oxide coating is eco-friendly, water-based and kills viruses, bacteria, mould, and fungal growth and most importantly enhances indoor air quality. It’s non-toxic and approved by food testing laboratory of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and CE certified. It’s considered to be a safe substance, and is harmless to humans, stated Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala in a document on post-COVID coach.

The coating has an effective life of 12 months.

Also Read: Robotic ‘Captain Arjun’ To Screen Passengers While Boarding Trains: Central Railways

Talking about the benefits of titanium di-oxide coating, Mr Prasanth said,

Both copper and titanium follow ROS (reactive oxygen species), antiviral defense mechanism. The virus has RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) and protein and because of the ROS mechanism, RNA and protein attract to copper/titanium and try to burst the envelope of the virus. Though both copper and titanium follow the same mechanism, they react in different ways. Titanium helps in degrading the virus but it’s not as effective as copper. And the properties of titanium are much effective when lights fall on it.

Mr Goyal believes the coach will provide ‘COVID-free passenger journey’. As of now, there is no information on whether the model will be replicated on all trains and from when Indian Railways will start its operations.

NDTV spoke to Jitesh Kumar, Public Relations Officer, Rail Coach Factory,  Kapurthala and he said the team awaits feedback and further instructions to replicate the model. Talking about the cost incurred in updating the coaches and how Railways plans to implement social distancing, he said,

We have invested Rs. 3 lakh on non-AC coach and around Rs. 4-5 lakh on AC coach. We have put up self-explanatory stickers telling people to practise social distancing, hand hygiene, and other precautionary measures.

Also Read: Indian Railways Manufactured 1.91 Lakh PPE Gowns, 66.4 Kl Sanitiser, 7.33 Lakh Masks Till June 24

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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