Mumbai: Required in two places, isolation coaches of western and central railway lie unused

Updated: May 23, 2020, 07:41 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

With CR, WR coaches lying unused despite a shortage of beds, railways wants them to be added to Shramik trains.

The coaches have been designed in such a manner  that social distancing is maintained along with privacy for patients
The coaches have been designed in such a manner that social distancing is maintained along with privacy for patients

Despite the acute shortage of beds, the civic body has not utilised the coaches which were turned into quarantine coaches by the Indian Railways (IR). The Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) converted 482 and 410 coaches into quarantine coaches respectively.

However, with none of them being used, IR has now asked zonal railways to take a call and reverse the isolation coach manufacturing and utilise them for Shramik special trains.

'Lack of co-ordination'

"Mumbai is facing an acute shortage of beds as cases keep on rising. If this is the case, why are these coaches not been used?" activist Muralidhar Goyal said. "These coaches can prove to be very useful," he added. Passenger activist Ravinder Sharma said this is a case of lack of co-ordination between government utilities.

Fully-equipped coaches

While converting the coaches, the middle berths were removed thereby making a two feet bed space. Extra bottle holders and electric points have been provided for medicines, IV fluids and medical equipment.

A foldable stool is available under the berth for keeping the medical equipment and air plastic curtains have been provided between two cabins for privacy and isolation.

One of the four toilets of the coach has been converted into a bathroom with the provision of curtains at the entrance of the cabin to isolate the patients. Each cabin has been provided with three dustbins of red, blue and yellow colours with foot-operated lids. There is also a provision of clamps for hanging oxygen cylinders. Water pipes and taps provided in the toilet are converted into bathrooms and provided with soap dispensers.

Can be reconverted

Railway officials said the isolation coaches have been distributed to states as per guidelines of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. "As of now, there are requests from the local government. As the migrant crisis is becoming acute, the number of Shramik trains is increasing. So instead of just keeping these coaches unused, they can be used for transporting migrants back home. However, if there is a requirement of quarantine coaches, they can be reconverted into isolation wards at the workshops in no time," an official said.

"WR has kept the isolation coaches ready and not yet started using any of them as our rake position for Shramik trains is satisfactory as of now. We are getting adequate assistance from Railway Board. Using isolation coaches will be the last resort," WR chief public relations officer Ravinder Bhakar said.

"Shramik special trains are being run on the request of state governments and their number is increasing daily. So the utilisation of few COVID isolation coaches into Shramik special trains is a temporary measure and can be restored as and when required," CR chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar said.

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