12 COVID care railway coaches ready in Kerala

Sleeper class coaches converted to isolation units at Palakkad.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Twelve non-air-conditioned three-tier sleeper and general class coaches have been modified into Isolation units in Kerala to supplement quarantine facilities as part of the Railways’ sustained efforts to curb COVID-19.

Thiruvananthapuram railway division, the premier division of the State, has converted four coaches and has positioned them in Ernakulam South. The adjoining Palakkad railway division has converted eight coaches and has positioned them in Palakkad Town for making it for those needing quarantine.

The Railways initiative comes at a time when the beds and ICU units in the government and private hospitals are getting exhausted across the State following the surge during the current second wave of pandemic.

A total of 192 beds are available in the 12 isolation units readied by the personnel of the mechanical wing of the two divisions. The isolation units had been set up in eight of the nine cabins in a coach. The Sleepers had been removed from the first cabin to convert it into a paramedical area. Middle sleepers had been removed from the other eight cabins. Thus, only 16 infected persons can be accommodated in each unit. Extra bottle holders, extra 3 peg coat hooks, mosquito net on windows and three dustbins in different colours with foot-operated lids had been made available. The Isolation units positioned in Ernakulam will be managed by the Government and those in Palakkad Town by the Railway Hospital.

So far, the Railways have made available a fleet of more than 4,400 Isolation Coaches with around 70,000 beds to serve as Isolation Units. These Isolation Coaches can be easily moved and positioned at places of demand on the railway network. ‘Requisition has not come so far from the State for these units”, Area Manager, Ernakulam, Nitin Nobert told The Hindu.

Last year, the 97 coaches - 65 from Thiruvanathapuram division and 32 from Palakkad division- modified into isolation units in Kerala at a cost of ₹35,000 each were reconverted as per the directive of the Railway Board. The reconversion into passenger coaches was after it was found that these isolation units will not be needed to beef up quarantine facilities.

For the cash-strapped railways, ₹33,95,000 had gone down the drain due to the inability to use these 97 isolation units.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 11:38:00 AM |

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