Covid-19: Indian Railways dons new role at hour of crisis

Covid-19: Indian Railways dons new role at hour of crisis

New Delhi: From rolling out hospital beds and medical trolleys to making Personal Protection Equipment such as masks and sanitizers, the Indian Railways is set to don a completely new role to help the country fight off the deadly Covid-19.

The railways is even contemplating to convert its coaches and cabins to isolation wards if the states run out of hospital beds upon a sudden surge of novel coronavirus cases, thanks to suspension of all passenger services till April 14.  in view of the country-wide lockdown. The proposal was discussed in detail in a meeting through videoconferencing and attended by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Chairman Railway Board V K Yadav, General Managers and Divisional Railway Managers on Wednesday.

“In this dire situation, the manufacturing capabilities of Indian Railways may be needed to be harnessed in order to combat this scourge,” Principal Executive Director (Environment and Housekeeping Management) wrote in a direction to all the Zonal heads.

“It is noted that the manufacturing facilities available in the Indian Railway’s Production units and Zonal Railway Workshops can be utilized for manufacture of items like simple hospital beds, medical trolleys for hospitals and quarantine facilities, IV stands, stretchers, hospital footsteps, hospital bedside lockers, wash-basins with stands, ventilators, PPEs like masks, sanitizers, water tanks etc. Other items requiring sheet metal fabrication work, welding and machining can also be manufactured in these facilities based on urgent requirement,” the letter read.

The Railways has also agreed to handover a new hostel building of Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project training institute in Vadodara for creating a backup quarantine centre. The facility includes 168 rooms with 334 beds and 12 big common rooms.

The railway units across the country have commenced production of masks, hand sanitizers and aprons for medical use. The diesel shed at Asansol in West Bengal and the diesel locomotive shed at Jodhpur in Rajasthan have produced over 700 liters of sanitisers in the past few days.

The diesel locomotive shed at Andal in Asansol has prepared 500 litres of sanitisers, which were packed in bottles of different sizes for supply. The diesel locomotive shed at Bhagat ki Kothi in Jodhpur prepared 215 litres of sanitisers. Similarly, the Goldern Rock Workshop, Tiruchirappalli, has produced 10 litres of hand sanitizers so far while the Perambur Loco Works prepared five litres initially.

“The average cost of making sanitizers comes to Rs 570 per litre which is lot cheaper than what is sold in the market. Golden Rock workshop will soon be making 60 cots. The Perambur Carriage works has made 250 masks and nearly 50 aprons till-date. The Electric Locoshed, Erode, the facility at Arakkonam, Ernakulam Diesel loco shed and the Medical branch of Trivandum division have all started contributing,” said a Southern Railway spokesperson.

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