Tamil Nadu

Southern Railway to convert coaches into isolation wards

Carriage Works, Loco Works in Chennai and Golden Rock Workshop in Tiruchi commenced work on the prototype models on Saturday. File.

Carriage Works, Loco Works in Chennai and Golden Rock Workshop in Tiruchi commenced work on the prototype models on Saturday. File.   | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

Sleeper Class coaches were being modified into isolation wards and the number of berths (beds) could vary depending upon the model and need, officials said.

Southern Railway will convert some of its coaches into isolation wards as part of the initiatives to combat COVID-19.

Carriage Works, Loco Works in Chennai and Golden Rock Workshop in Tiruchi commenced work on the prototype models on Saturday. According to Chief Public Relations Officer B. Guhanesan, the models would be ready in one week’s time and a decision on making more such isolation coaches and distribution aspects would be taken by the Railway Board.

While railways already have huge hospital facilities equipped with ICU and isolation wards facilities at all divisional headquarters - Chennai, Madurai, Salem, Tiruchi, Palghat and Thiruvananthapuram - covering Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and parts of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, the decision to convert coaches into isolation wards taken by the Ministry of Railways to meet any exigency that might arise later, railway sources said.

Existing Sleeper Class coaches were being modified into isolation wards and the number of berths (beds) could vary depending upon the model and need. One coach was being designed with nine beds with provision for life-saving equipment, a senior railway official said adding that the coaches would only serve as isolation wards to start with though an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on wheels would also be possible.

The Indian Railways that operates over 13,000 trains across the country has suspended passenger train operations till April 14 to control the spread of COVID19. While production units and factories have been tasked with the projects of manufacturing medical equipment and consumables like ventilators, face masks and hand sanitisers required to treat patients infected by the novelcorona virus, the Zonal Railways are working on converting coaches into temporary isolation wards or ICUs. These decisions were taken at a high level meeting chaired by Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal in New Delhi recently, the sources said.

The Integral Coach Factory in Chennai that is making hand sanitisers and face masks has been approached by the Tamil Nadu State government for supply of the consumables in large quantities. The Golden Rock Workshop in Tiruchi was fabricating steel cots and bedside lockers for COVID19 patients, the sources said.

"It is possible to move the converted coaches to a desired location. We also have Accident Relief Medical Equipment Vans which are coaches equipped with life saving medicines and surgical facilities. If a situation arises we will be able to run such trains or ambulances on track to reach out to affected people. However, these are only contingency measures that need approval of the competent authority to be implemented,” another railway official said adding that thousands of employees were at home as part of the nationwide lockdown but accessible over phone for any exigency.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 7:47:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/southern-railway-to-convert-coaches-into-isolation-wards/article31192603.ece

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