Here Comes the Covid-19 Express: Railway Coaches Can Now Accommodate 40,000 Patients


Here Comes the Covid-19 Express: Railway Coaches Can Now Accommodate 40,000 Patients

Illustration: Aishwarya Nayak

When a nationwide lockdown was announced on March 25, India suspended Asia’s oldest rail network for the first time in 167 years. But the work hasn’t stopped. Indian Railways has been operating at a war footing in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, manufacturing masks, PPEs, hand sanitisers on a massive scale as well as assisting in the movement of food and essential supplies across the country.

While passenger trains have been suspended, Indian ingenuity has peaked as trains are being converted into mobile hospitals. The Railways has converted 2,500 coaches into isolation wards, with 40,000 isolation beds ready for contingency.

A statement issued by the ministry said, “On an average, 375 coaches are being converted on a daily basis with the work being carried out at 133 locations in the country. These coaches are equipped as per medical advisories issued.”

A video shared by Railways Minister Piyush Goyal details the layout of the isolation wards along with the various facilities provided. Two out of four toilets have been converted into bathrooms and the middle berth on one side in each cabin has been removed, with lower berth acting as a patient bed.

Dedicated cabins have been reserved for doctors and medical staff. Additional electrical sockets have been provided for medical instruments along with provisions to connect with an external electric supply. Every patient area has medical grade plastic curtains and cabins are separated by plywood covering.

The Railway Ministry is halfway there toward their initial goal of 5,000 coaches, with 2,500 coaches converted into isolation wards. The ministry shared a video of the work in progress at Loco Works, Perambur, Chennai.

The mobile isolation wards can travel to remote locations in India if the need arises. These isolation coaches are meant for contingency purposes and to supplement the efforts of the health ministry in the fight against Covid-19.

Looks like we are on the right track.