The railways has spent an additional Rs three lakh per non-AC coach and Rs 6 lakh per AC coach to ensure safety of passengers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic with these specially designed coaches, a senior official said Tuesday.
The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) Kapurthala has manufactured two such coaches which have amenities like foot operated washbasins, dispensers and toilet flushes, door handles which are manoeuvred with the forearm and handrails coated with anti-microbial copper to prevent spread of the infection.
These coaches also have fixtures coated with titanium dioxide and the provision for plasma air equipment in AC ducts to sterilise interiors using ionised air.
"The titanium oxide coating, which covers all surfaces, costs around Rs 2.5 lakh per coach and the plasma ion system costs around Rs 3 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh per coach. Other than that the other fixtures are inexpensive. Overall, for the non-AC coaches we have spent Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh and for the AC coach we have spent Rs 5 to Rs 6 lakh," General Manager, RCF, Ravinder Gupta said.
He was speaking at a webinar organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) jointly with Invest Punjab on Vendor Development Opportunities for RCF.
Gupta also said that the railways was conducting internal research to develop solutions that could lower the cost of manufacturing such coaches.
"We are doing internal research and we also invite the industry to come and give us cheaper options. We have some solutions but we need something that will last a million operations," he said.
He also said that the coaches have generated interest in the railways and the RCF was ready to manufacture many such coaches once it gets the nod from the Railway Board.
The first two coaches, one AC and another non-AC, are currently on their way to North West Central railway zone, Gupta said, adding that the zonal railway will decide where to finally deploy them.
The features of the new coaches, detailed in a booklet circulated by the railways, include a host of foot-operated fixtures, including taps, soap dispensers, lavatory doors, flush valves and door latches. Outside the toilet is a wash basin with a foot operated tap forearm. Besides, the compartment doors have handles operated with the forearm.
The railways has also installed copper coated handrails and latches as copper degrades the virus which lands on it within a few hours, the booklet said.
"Copper also has anti-microbial properties. Thus, when virus lands on it, the ion blasts the pathogen and destroys the DNA and RNA inside it," it said.
The coaches will also have the provision of plasma air equipment in the AC duct that will sterilise the coaches using ionised air to make it coronavirus-free.
The "nano structured titanium dioxide" coating is another special feature.
"This is an eco-friendly water-based coating that kills viruses, bacteria, mould, and fungal growth and most importantly enhances indoor air quality. It is non-toxic and approved by food testing laboratory of the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) It is considered to be a safe substance, and is harmless for humans," it said.
The coating has been applied on washbasins, lavatory, seats and berths, snack table, glass window, floor, and virtually every contact surface.
The effective life of the coating is 12 months.
The railways is currently running 15 pairs of AC trains on Rajdhani routes and 100 pairs of mail and express trains. A few Shramik Special trains are also running daily.