To fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country, the Indian Railways has directed all the Zonal Railways to develop a prototype coach which can be used as a hospital isolation ward to treat affected patients.
As per the instruction, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) will be modifying 315 coaches by equipping them with basic facilities needed for isolation as per medical guidelines for placement in various locations.
All these coaches will be made within the next seven days on a war footing in various workshops and depots located in various divisions of the NFR.
20 coaches each will be modified at Katihar and New Jalpaiguri under Katihar division. 25 coaches will be modified at Alipurduar Jn under Alipurduar division.
30 coaches will be modified at Dibrugarh under Tinsukia division. 10 coaches at Agartala, 30 coaches at Silchar, 50 coaches each at Guwahati and Kamakhya will be modified under the Lumding division.
50 coaches will be modified at New Bongaigaon Railway Workshop while 30 coaches will be modified at Dibrugarh Railway Workshop. Indian Railway has decided to convert 5,000 coaches as Isolation coaches at present.
“If needed, more coaches can be modified. All these coaches are going to be equipped with mosquito nets, charging points for mobiles & laptops, space for paramedics & medical equipment etc. These facilities will be made available as mandated by the Government of India to those in need,” said Subhanan Chanda, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of NFR.
Chanda added, “Indian Railways is now making an all-out effort to supplement the health care efforts of Government of India. The spectrum of steps includes modification of passenger coaches as isolation coaches, equipping the existing Railway Hospitals to meet the COVID-19 needs, earmarking of hospital beds to meet the contingencies, recruitment of additional doctors and paramedics, etc. and providing food to needy people free of cost.”
The Indian Railways has decided to engage doctors and para-medical staff from open market at all hospitals for a period of three months as per local requirement in order to effectively contain this pandemic. Moreover, the railway is also re-employing retired railway doctors.