Karnataka

Isolation coaches to be modified to haul freight traffic

The steady drop in the number of active cases and the high rate of recovery no longer necessitate the requirement of these coaches.  

Isolation coaches converted from the regular bogies to cope with any possible shortage of hospital beds due to surge in COVID-19 cases, are now poised for reconversion into New Modified Goods (NMG) rakes to haul freight traffic. For, the roll out of the vaccine on Saturday, the steady drop in the number of active cases and the high rate of recovery (in excess of 96%) no longer necessitates the requirement of the isolation coaches. But even during the peak of the pandemic they were not put to use though they were on standby.

Sources said they were never utilised because home isolation option was extended to those who tested positive for COVID-19 but were asymptomatic. Besides, additional facilities were created by converting hostels, hotels and guesthouses.

A senior official in the South Western Railway said they have received instructions to convert coaches that are over 20 years old to NMG coaches to carry motor vehicles including bikes, scooters and cars. The reconversion from an isolation coach to an NMG coach entails another round of changes including removal of seats and berths carrying vehicles, the sources added.

E. Vijaya, Chief PRO, South Western Railway, said with the gradual resumption of train services, some isolation coaches have also been redeployed in passenger trains though a majority of those which are 20 years and older will be suitably modified to haul automobiles.

The Ministry of Railways had announced in March 2020 that it was prepared to modify nearly 20,000 passenger bogies and convert them into isolation coaches as part of the COVID-19 preparedness. Initially, 5,000 coaches were modified and each railway zone was given a specific target.

The SWR had a target of converting 312 bogies into isolation coaches of which 128 were converted in the Mysuru division. The modifications into isolation coaches entailed removing the middle berth to ensure ventilation, provision of space for oxygen cylinders, cabin for paramedical staff, modification of the Indian style bathrooms, etc. The cost of converting a bogie to an isolation coach was around ₹35,000.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 5:06:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/isolation-coaches-to-be-modified-to-haul-freight-traffic/article33613451.ece

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