New Delhi: Indian Railways has been taking a series of steps towards its Swachh Rail initiative. From introducing bio-degradable cutlery made from sugarcane in some premium trains to the recent announcement to use WhatsApp groups for respective departments to monitor cleanliness of the trains, and now the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal in an interview to PTI said that the railways are mulling to replace all the 2.5 lakh toilets inside train coaches with vacuum bio-toilets like those in an aeroplane.
The minister said, We have started experimenting with vacuum bio-toilets like those in an aeroplane. Some 500 vacuum bio-toilets have been ordered and once the experiment is successful, I am willing to spend money to replace all the 2.5 lakh toilets on the trains with vacuum bio-toilets.
Meanwhile, installation of bio-toilets in the leftover train coaches will continue.
The major difference between a bio-toilet and a vacuum toilet is that the bio-toilets come with a small-scale sewage-treatment system beneath the toilet seat where bacteria in a compost chamber digest human excreta and leaves behind water and methane. Whereas Vacuum toilets do not treat any human waste, when a person flushes, it opens a valve in the sewer line, and the vacuum in the line sucks the contents out of the bowl and into a tank.
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The Present Status Of Bio-Toilets In Indian Railways
As of May 31, the railways has installed over 1.3 lakh (1,36,965) bio-toilets in around 37,411 coaches at a cost price of Rs 1 lakh per toilet. It has earmarked Rs 250 crore to fit all the coaches with bio-toilets by March 2019.
By March 2019, we will be 100 per cent on bio-toilets, which in itself is a big achievement. The tracks will be cleaner, the smell will go away and rail renewal procedure will be reduced, Mr Goyal said.
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Features Of An Airplane-Like Vacuum Toilets
Explaining the features of the vacuum toilets that will be installed at a cost price of Rs 2.5 lakh per unit, the minister added, “These toilets will be odour-free, will cut down water usage by 1/20th and will have much lesser chances of getting blocked.”
The advantages of Vacuum toilets over a bio-toilet are that these toilets require very less water, they can use much smaller diameter sewer pipes. Moreover, these toilets can flush in any direction, including upward.
More Changes In Indian Railways
Apart from bio-toilets upgrade, the Indian Railways has also decided to change the colour scheme of approximately 30,000 coaches – for all mail and express trains in the country.
Soon, instead of the dark blue coaches, the trains will have beige and brown colour scheme. It was in the 1990s that the new colour scheme of dark blue was introduced for Mail/Express coaches, replacing the brick red colour which was in use for decades.
According to the statement released by the ministry of railways, “A complete makeover of coaches was long overdue and the change of colour is part of the Railways’ efforts to make passengers’ experience a pleasant one.”