With many public places across India gearing up to introduce thermal cameras to detect body temperature of people in crowded areas, Indian Railways is eyeing this as a new revenue stream. Now, train passengers in Bihar’s Patna railway station are being scanned by a thermal camera for symptoms like fever and whether they are wearing face masks, etc. But with this pilot project, Indian Railways will actually earn money for the use of that camera. The vendor authorized to sell disposable blankets, sanitizers, quilts, and face masks to passengers from a dedicated kiosk, will have to pay the national transporter, according to an IE report.
For the first time in the country, this unique “earning contract” is being implemented wherein Indian Railways does not have to shell out money to buy thermal cameras to screen passengers. According to the report, the contract is for the setting up of the stall for linen. One of the main conditions for this contract is that the contractor will also have to install a thermal camera with defined specifications for accuracy. The feed of the thermal camera will be monitored by railway staff, like the RPF, stationed on the ground and scan for alerts like passengers coming in with COVID-19 symptoms especially fever. From one stall, the national transporter will earn around Rs 1.41 lakh per year. This is a new non-fare-revenue idea, railway officials said.
Sunil Kumar, DRM of the Danapur Division of East Central Railway zone was quoted in the report saying that the idea will be replicated in other busy railway stations like Danapur, Patliputra, Rajendra Nagar, etc. Since Indian Railways is not providing any linen items on trains to passengers due to coronavirus-related restrictions, they may want to buy these items. The national transporter is also ensuring that the vendor installs a thermal camera so that passengers can be scanned. Moreover, all this will not cost Indian Railways anything, Kumar said.
For Indian Railways, the thermal cameras are the new purchase items. The zonal railways are buying thermal cameras to put up at railway stations, offices, and workshops. A tender was floated by the telecom arm of the national transporter, RailTel to procure as many as 800 thermal cameras to be installed in all kinds of places in Indian Railways. Thus, depending on the type chosen by Indian Railways, a thermal camera may cost upwards of Rs 2 to 4 lakh a piece.
If the pilot project is successful in the long run, Indian Railways can save on spending this money on purchasing this item. Kumar has also said that after the journey, passengers can choose to take the linen items home but they should be disposed of in a proper manner. The items on sale include an inflatable pillow, comforter, masks, hand sanitizers, bedsheets, etc. Each item costs as low as Rs 50 while a complete set is available for around Rs 200-250.