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To help the state governments in containing the spread of novel coronavirus infection, Indian Railways is likely to transform its coaches into quarantine facilities. The national transporter is planning to turn the existing coaches into wards where those who need to be quarantined can be placed with medical facilities and food being provided to them within the coach. According to an IE report, under this plan, the trains would be transformed into holding centres for patients and paramedical staff who will be treating them. The exact design is yet to be finalized, however, officials have been asked to take necessary steps to identify areas in their respective divisions where train coaches can be parked. They have also been asked to see that adequate arrangements are made to ensure electricity supply for a longer duration to these coaches.
A Western Railway official was quoted in the report saying that the zone has identified all locations in the division where a train coach can be charged to ensure uninterrupted source of power. Besides, a stock of all pantry cars are being converted into a mobile kitchen for providing food to those patients who will be quarantined. The officials said that while trains placed at railway stations like CSMT and Mumbai Central will have access to a base kitchen, train coaches placed at other odd locations will require pantry facilities.
Chairman of Railway Board, VK Yadav was quoted in the report saying that the board is speaking to health experts to understand what all is required, and also looking at all the pros and cons. Also to ensure that meal is provided to those kept in quarantine, the stock of pantry car is being checked.
As per a proposed design, an LHB coach with around nine lobbies (each lobby with six berths) can be utilized as one single unit to place an individual. In a similar way, in one coach, at least nine such compartments will be created to place a person under isolation who can be provided with medical supply and food. According to the report, with this at least 10,000 isolation wards will be created using 20,000 coaches. In order to facilitate the idea, the national transporter has also started movement of its rakes that were stuck in other zones of Indian Railways when the operations of passenger trains were stalled from midnight of March 22 (Janta Curfew day).
According to the report, as many as 637 rakes from various zones were stuck with 17 different zonal railways, which are now being returned to their home zones for maintenance. The Western Railways owns nearly 52 rakes in total, out of which 42 rakes were in different zones. Similarly, Central Railways has 175 rakes, out of which 56 were in different zones. Once these coaches return to their home zones, they will be disinfected and will be made ready for being used as quarantine facilities, the report added.