Fed up with passengers using toilets when the train is stationary despite requests not to do so, the Indian Railways (IR) has come up with a novel technique to keep tracks at stations free of human waste.
Smart toilets for trains: The new system has a mechanical contraption
connected to the wheels of coaches that automatically closes toilet
outlets with flaps when a train halts. Representation pic
Engineers have installed flaps covering the outlets under toilet seats that automatically open when the train is moving. As the flaps remain closed when the train is stationary, it prevents faeces from falling on the railway tracks at stations.
According to railway officials, people prefer visiting toilets during halts since the train is stable when stationary. "Tracks at all stations throughout the country are a disgusting sight, particularly for people waiting for their respective trains. They are the first piece of railway infrastructure that you see the moment you stand on a platform.
It becomes extremely difficult as well as dangerous for railway staff to keep cleaning the tracks since they are also tasked with other maintenance work both on and off the tracks. Moreover, they have to immediately replenish the train's water tanks the moment it arrives at a station," said a Central Railway (CR) official from the city, requesting anonymity.
A year in the making
The new technique was mooted a year ago after the issue was discussed with senior railway engineers and officials. It was then decided to integrate the technique with the train's abdominal mechanics. Technicians at the Indian Railways' Research and Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) at Lucknow then developed a mechanical contraption which is connected to the wheels of the coaches.
"The flaps remain completely shut when the train is stationary but gradually start opening after the train reaches a particular speed, and vice versa. People can still flush and use water taps," said an official, also requesting anonymity.
On Rajdhanis already
The facility has already been installed on the new Rajdhani and Shatabdi coaches and the Railways plans to standardise it on coaches in other trains as well. Both CR PRO Y K Singh and Additional Divisional Railway Manager A K Gupta confirmed the development and appealed to people to refrain from spoiling railway property.
"Engineers from the Chief Design Engineer in Punjab have also participated in the development. It is already
functional on the Pune-Hyderabad Shatabdi and will be installed on all future trains," said Gupta.