Railways creates prototype of post-Covid coach to fight virusUpdated: Jul 15, 2020 02:10 IST
The railways is preparing to provide better hygiene and sanitation standards in train coaches as it plans to install foot-operated soap dispensers, copper-coated handrails, fixtures with titanium dioxide (TiO2) coating that kills viruses and plasma air equipment inside air conditioning (AC) ducts to steralise and make the interiors particulate matter-resistant.
The national carrier’s production unit, Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala, has built the first prototype. The railways plans to retrofit all its existing coaches with these amenities, officials aware of the matter 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 washbasin with foot operated water tap and soap dispenser and forearm operated handle on compartment doors,” the railway ministry said in its design note for the coaches.
The first two coaches built at the unit have fixtures coated with TiO2 and the provision for plasma air equipment in AC ducts to sterilise interiors using ionised air. “This plasma air equipment will sterilize 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.
The ministry said nano structured TiO2 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 Dioxide coating [will be] applied on washbasins, lavatory, seats & berths, snack table, glass window, floor, virtually every surface that comes in human contact.” The effective life of this coating is expected to be a year. The coaches will also be equipped with copper-coated handrails and latches. “Copper degrades the virus landed on it within few hours. Copper has anti-microbial properties,” the ministry noted.
The railways is planning to manufacture all coaches with these 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,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
An estimate of the cost of production was not immediately available.