How Railways is customising coaches to secure travellers from COVID-19

post covid railway coaches
Foot-operated water tap and soap dispensers | Photos: Railway booklet

New Delhi: From foot-operated soap dispensers and toilet flushes to door handles manoeuvred with the forearm and handrails coated with anti-microbial copper, the Railways' new coaches for post corona travel launched on Tuesday come packed with features to help stave off infection.

The first two coaches that rolled out from the Railway Coach Factory in Kapurthala also have fixtures coated with titanium dioxide and the provision for plasma air equipment in AC ducts to sterilise interiors using ionised air, officials said.

All future coaches will now have these specifications, a railway spokesperson said.

The present ones will also be retrofitted to include these changes wherever possible, he said. The specifications will cost the Railways Rs 6-7 lakh per coach.

Foot-operated latches in lavatory door

Giving details of the two coaches, one air-conditioned and other non-air conditioned, officials said the use of hands to navigate washrooms and other parts has been brought down to a minimum, making them almost hands-free.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also indicated that the new coaches could be the new normal. "Future Ready Railway: Designed to fight Coronavirus, Railways creates 1st Post COVID Coach' with handsfree amenities, copper-coated handrails & latches, plasma air purification, Titanium di-oxide coating. For COVID-Free passenger journey!," he said in a tweet.

The features, detailed in a booklet circulated by the Railways, include a host of foot-operated fixtures such as taps, soap dispensers, lavatory doors, flush valves and door latches. Here are the major renovations as per the booklet:

• Outside the toilet is a washbasin with a foot-operated tap forearm

• Besides, the compartment doors have handles operated with the forearm.

• The Railways has installed copper-coated handrails and latches as copper degrades the virus which lands on it within a few hours.

• Copper also has anti-microbial properties. Thus, when the virus lands on it, the ion blasts the pathogen and destroys the DNA and RNA inside it.

Copper coated handrails and latches

• The coaches will have the provision of plasma air equipment in the AC duct that will sterilise the coaches using ionised air to make it COVID-19-free.

• The nanostructured titanium dioxide coating is another special feature. This is an eco-friendly water-based coating that kills viruses, bacteria, mold, and fungal growth and most importantly enhances indoor air quality. It is non-toxic and approved by the food testing laboratory of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) It is considered to be a safe substance, and is harmless for humans, the Railways said.

• The coating has been applied on washbasins, lavatory, seats and berths, snack table, glass window, floor, virtually every contact surface. The effective life of the coating is 12 months.

Foot-operated flush valve

The Railways is currently running 15 pairs of AC trains on Rajdhani routes and 100 pairs of mail and express trains. A few Shramik Special trains are also running daily.

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