South Western Railway plans to reconvert isolation coaches | Bengaluru News – Times of India
None of the 320 coaches was used to lodge Covid-19 patients
BENGALURU: After turning 320 passenger coaches into isolation wards to house suspected Covid-19 patients, South Western Railway is now planning to reconvert them.
None of the coaches was used to lodge Covid patients in the past two months. Sources say SWR spent lakhs of rupees on the conversion.
SWR had modified 320 passenger coaches, which are stationed at 14 railway stations, including KSR Bengaluru City, Hubballi, Mysuru, Yeshwantpur, Harihar, Shivamogga Town, Hosapete, Hassan, Arsikere, Bagalkot, Talaguppa, Vijayapura, Belagavi and Vasco da Gama (Goa).
The railway board recently said 50-60% of its 5,213 isolation coaches meant for Covid patients across the country will now be used to run Shramik Special trains. It asked all zones to remove oxygen tanks and ventilators as well as mosquito nets and plastic curtains from more than half of the converted coaches.
Many rail activists questioned the conversion idea. Sanjeev Dyamannavar, a rail activist, said. “They (railways) have put a bedsheet and pillow and are calling it an isolation ward. Imagine the condition of people who will be housed in such coaches parked in an open area exposed to mosquitoes and heat. How will the coaches be cleaned when people are inside? It will also be difficult to shift patients from these coaches to hospital in case of emergency.”
A senior official said the wards were created to meet the requirement of lodging Covid patients, but the state government hasn’t approached SWR for the purpose till now.
E Vijaya, chief public relations officer of SWR, said no isolation coaches have been reconverted so far. “The conversion cost less than Rs 50,000 per coach. The SOP for these coaches was released by the railway ministry in consultation with the health ministry… We have not received any request for deployment.”