Tough task! How Indian Railways has been deep-cleaning its trains to aim for Corona-proof network

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Updated: Mar 23, 2020 5:48 PM

Under the revised plan for the cleaning of trains, around 50 ml of disinfectant was utilised in each coach. This quantity has increased during the past few days due to the outbreak

Indian RailwaysAll trains sets and coaches, from its interiors and exteriors, have been directed to be thoroughly disinfected by the Railway Board (Express photos)

Deep-cleaning of Indian Railways trains – a commendable task! Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has taken up a string of measures to prevent the spread of the deadly Corona COVID-19 virus infection across the railway network. For achieving a Corona-proof network, all trains sets and coaches, from its interiors and exteriors, have been directed to be thoroughly disinfected by the Railway Board. Recently, the national transporter suspended the operations of all Mail/Express, long distance, intercity passenger trains as well as all suburban local services across the country till March 31, 2020. This was done in order to prevent the infection from person to person inside trains. But before the complete shutdown of operations, Indian Railways had been deep-cleaning its trains.

According to an IE report, the Indian Railways undertook deep cleaning and sanitization of its train coaches amidst the outbreak of Coronavirus. According to an earlier protocol of sanitising trains, the trains were washed only with water after they returned to the railway station following their to-and-fro operations. But, now, each train underwent a full water bath after its every run, along with a round of sanitisation with the disinfection process. This was done as per the standards prescribed by the Ministry of Health and the Health Department of the Railways. However, in order to sanitise a network as vast as the Indian Railways is a herculean task in itself. During normal train operations, around 12,000 trains ferry 2.3 crore passengers in the country. The network has as many as 60,000 coaches of several kinds in circulation, and around 6,000 of which are away for maintenance at any given time. Hence, a one-time cleaning process of the remaining 54,000 active train coaches on the network requires around 16,000 litres of cleaning agents, including almost 3,000 litres of disinfectants for sanitisation.

Under the revised plan for the cleaning of trains, around 50 ml of disinfectant was utilised in each coach. This quantity has increased during the past few days due to the outbreak. Along with this, around 50 ml each of floor cleaning agents, toilet cleaning agents, berth rexine cleaner, 90 ml of a chemical for the external surfaces as well as 800 ml of liquid soap for hand washing. Overall, each train coach uses around 290 ml of cleaning agents or chemicals. Besides this, around 1,500 litres of water is utilized to wash the coach from outside and around 300 litres more for the interiors. However, Indian Railways also has a few coach washing plants installed at few of its stations, where trains get a decent wash with an economical amount of 600 litres.

Here are the specifications of what all it takes to disinfect a train coach:

  • Disinfectant – 50 ml (usually the amount if 10 ml per coach, but now it has increased in view of COVID-19 outbreak
  • PVC floor cleaning agent – 50 ml
  • Toilet cleaning agent – 50 ml
  • Berth rexine cleaner – 50 ml
  • External surface – 90 ml
  • Total cleaning agents or chemicals per coach – 250 ml

Additionally,

  • 800 ml liquid soap for hand washing purposes
  • 1,500 litres of water used to wash each coach from the outside
  • 300 litres for interiors, including train toilets

For cleaning and disinfecting a train, around 17 men monitored by a supervisor take around six hours to clean the train before it starts from its home base station.

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