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Unique COVID-19 quarantine units! Indian Railways converts train coaches into isolation wards; see pics

By Nikita Prasad

Indian Railways train coaches converted into COVID-19 quarantine facility! In an innovative method to support the state governments for facilitating Coronavirus quarantine measures, Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has successfully converted train coaches into isolation wards.

These train coaches are facilitated with patient cabins, nurse cabins, isolation wards for keeping those individuals showing any symptoms of Coronavirus or those who need to be in a quarantine provision due to travel history.

The coaches are equipped with sanitised interiors for the safety of the individuals, doctors, railway officials as well as the nurses.

The Railway Board has directed all the railway zones to be ready to convert 20,000 train coaches into isolation wards, and in the first phase 5,000 coaches will be converted.

According to the Railway Ministry, the prototypes for the isolation coaches for COVID-19 has been made at Kamakhya in Assam and also at New Delhi. For making the patient cabins, the middle berths in the coaches have been detached from one side. Along with this, three berths have been removed in front of the patient’s berth, for creating adequate space.

In the train coaches, the ladders for climbing up on the berths have also been detached. The aisle areas, washrooms, basins and other areas in trains have also been altered to prepare the isolation coaches. These isolation coaches include nurse cabins and patient cabins.

Various railway zones such as Western Railways, Northern Railways have conducted studies to procure the train coaches for changing them into isolation wards. Various locations across these railway zones have been identified to begin the process for starting the quarantine facility. Some of these include New Delhi, Kamakhya, CSMT, Mumbai Central stations.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board has said that in order to ensure the adequate supply of food in these quarantine facilities within trains, the stock in the pantry cars is also being monitored. Suggestions from health experts is being considered for providing the right meals.

According to the design which was proposed earlier, for creating the quarantine areas in trains, one LHB coach having nine lobbies, each including six berths, is likely to be used as one single unit for keeping an individual in quarantine. The patient cabins will be equipped with the medical supplies to cater to the needs of the individual.

The Indian Railways workshops situated across several railway zones are manufacturing beds, stools and other such necessary equipment for adding to the quarantine facilities in the train coaches. The railway workshop and coaching depot in the South Central Railway zone has manufactured cots, face masks, coveralls and side tools.

The proposed design of the isolation coaches also include almost nine compartments in one coach to place one person under isolation. The Railway Board recently directed all railway zones that as many as 20,000 train coaches will be converted into isolation wards for placing individuals in quarantine. This will eventually bring thousands of new isolation wards on the network.

According to the Northern Railways zone, the railway workshop situated in the zone will manufacture sanitisers, face masks, coveralls or aprons, protective gear for doctors and nurses. 16 LHB coaches in the zone have already converted into isolation coaches and 20 more LHB coaches, two ICF coaches will be converted by March 31, 2020.

According to the Northeast Frontier railway zone, the train coaches have been converted to isolation wards at the coaching depot in Kamakhya in the state of Assam. With this facility, nine patients can be accommodated in one such train coach. The coach is equipped with oxygen cylinders, stools and other such necessary equipment.

According to the guidelines by the Railway Board, recently, one ICF non-air conditioned coach number 14242 was converted into an isolation coach. The train was taken to Kamakhya station in the Northeast Frontier railway zone. The Dibrugarh railway workshop is repairing damaged hospital beds, saline stands, oxygen trolley and stretcher wheels.