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Plasma air, foot operated taps in train coaches for post-Covid phase

The first such prototype has been built by the national carrier’s production unit, Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala. The railways also plans to retrofit all its existing coaches with these amenities, officials aware of the development said.

Updated: Jul 14, 2020 18:45 IST

By Anisha Dutta | Edited by Ashutosh Tripathi, Hindustan Times New Delhi

The first two coaches that rolled out from the unit also have fixtures coated with titanium dioxide and the provision for plasma air equipment in AC ducts to sterilise interiors using ionised air. (HT photo)

Plasma air purification, a host of hands-free amenities, like foot-operated soap dispensers, titanium di-oxide coating in railways coaches to kill viruses are among some of the new measures that the ministry plans to bring about as it prepares for travel in the post-Covid phase.

The first such prototype has been built by the national carrier’s production unit, Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala. The railways also plans to retrofit all its existing coaches with these amenities, officials aware of the development said.

“Post Covid-Coach will have hands-free amenities like foot operated water tap and soap dispenser, foot operated lavatory door (outside), foot operated flush valve, foot operated latches in lavatory door, outside wash basin with foot operated water tap and soap dispenser and forearm operated handle on compartment door,” the railway ministry said in its design note for the coaches.

The coaches will also be equipped with copper-coated handrails and latches. “Copper degrades the virus that lands on it within a few hours. Copper has anti-microbial properties. When the virus lands on copper, the ion blasts the pathogen and destroys the DNA and RNA inside the virus,” the ministry said.



The first two coaches that rolled out from the unit also have fixtures coated with titanium dioxide and the provision for plasma air equipment in AC ducts to sterilise interiors using ionised air.

“This plasma air equipment will sterilise the air and surfaces inside the AC coach using ionised air to make the coach Covid-19 and particulate matter resistant. This provision will also improve the ion concentration from 100 ions/cm3 to more than 6000 ions/cm,” the ministry said.

In addition to this, the coaches will also have a Titanium Di-oxide coating. “Nano structured Titanium Dioxide Coating functions as photoactive material. This is eco-friendly water-based coating that kills viruses, bacteria, mould, and fungal growth and most importantly enhances indoor air quality,” the ministry said.

“It is non-toxic and approved by the food testing laboratory of the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA), CE certified. TiO2 is considered to be a safe substance and is harmless to humans. This Titanium Di-oxide coating applied on washbasins, lavatory, seats & berths, snack table, glass window, floor, virtually every surface that comes in human contact,” it added.

The effective life of this coating is expected to last one year. The railways will also manufacture all new coaches with these technical specifications. “All future coach production will have these features. For existing coaches too we will try to retrofit wherever it is technically possible. The same was also done for bio-toilets which were retrofitted in existing coaches,” the official said.

This comes at a time when all regular passenger trains, including express and suburban services, have been suspended till August 12. Passenger train services were halted on March 22, three days before the imposition of a nationwide lockdown on March 25 that was aimed at containing the coronavirus.

At present the national carrier that would earlier cater to 23 million passengers aboard 14,000 passenger trains per day, is operating 15 pairs of premium Rajdhani trains connecting Delhi with different parts of the country, which began on May 12, and 100 pairs of long-distance trains, which began on June 1.

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