The railways has manufactured a prototype of an isolation ward for treating coronavirus patients by converting non-air-conditioned train coaches, it said on Saturday.
Once the best practices are finalised in the next few days, each railway zone would manufacture a rake with 10 coaches every week, the national transporter added.
“Then we will serve the hinterlands or whichever region needs the coaches,” Northern Railway Spokesperson Deepak Kumar said.
The prototype was manufactured at the Jagadhri workshop of the Northern Railways in Haryana’s Yamunagar.
A senior official of the workshop told PTI that a Link Hofmann Busch (LHB) coach was used for the purpose.
To make the modified isolation ward, the middle berth was removed, the lower portion of the compartment plugged by plywood and a provision of partition provided from the aisle side for the isolation of the compartment, the railways said.
Each coach would have 10 isolation wards, it added.
For medical equipment to be plugged in, the railways has provided 220-volt electrical points in each compartment, which have air curtains segregating one patient from the other.
The railways has also provided a provision for 415-volt supply externally.
The four toilets in each coach have been converted into two bathrooms by plugging the toilet pan and with proper flooring.
Each bathroom will have a hand shower, a bucket and a mug.
There is also a provision for bottle-holders, which can hold four bottles in each compartment.
Not just the wards for patients, the coaches will also have facilities such as consultation rooms, medical stores, ICUs and pantry.
Meanwhile, the Rail Coach Factory (RCF) in Punjab’s Kapurthala is also working on a design to convert LHB coaches into hospital facilities for future purposes.
“A design is being prepared for converting new LHB coaches into treatment ward so that they can be used as hospital facility,” RCF General Manager Ravinder Gupta said.
“The design will be finalised soon,” he said, adding that the RCF received instructions from its higher authorities in this regard two day back.
Some other railway zones are also experimenting to convert non-AC coaches into isolation wards. One was tried with an ICF non-AC coach in Kamakhya, Guwahati, an official said.
While in many railway zones, production units are experimenting with manufacturing essential commodities such as ventilators, beds and trolleys, the South Central Railway has already produced face masks, overalls, cots and side-stools at its workshops and coaching depots.
According to the 2011 Census, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had estimated that India had only 0.7 beds per 1,000 people.
While the country has set a target to increase this to two beds per 1,000 people, WHO recommends at least three beds per 1,000 people in India.
All Photographs: ANI