Covid Resourcefulness: Trains converted to Quarantine Coaches

When the pandemic hit India hard earlier this year, the country’s resources were stretched to breaking point – a situation many nations faced.

It is tragic when essential services fall short in the most urgent of times, but also rewarding that human ingenuity steps in with what could be termed Covid Resourcefulness.

As Indian newspaper The Tribune reports, “Indian railways has started the work to modify 5,000 of its coaches, which are to be converted into quarantine or isolation cabins for Covid patients. Each coach is expected to have 16 beds for isolation.”

Covid Resourcefulness: Converting Indian Train into Quarantine coaches
A coach being converted into an isolation ward in Chennai (Sourced from The Tribune.)

The 5,000 coaches will have the capacity to accommodate roughly 80,000 beds. In the first wave, 290 coaches were converted in New Delhi and 266 in Jaipur. India’s other 14 zones were tasked with doing the same with varying numbers.

In a statement on the project, India’s Ministry of Railways said:

In order to supplement the national efforts in combating COVID 19, Indian Railways has put all its might and resources behind national efforts.

In times of Lockdown, when manpower resources are limited and have to be rationalised and rotated, different Zones of Railways have almost done an impossible task of so many conversions in such a small span of time.

With the conversion of around 25,00 coaches, 40,000 isolation beds are now ready for  contingency … On an average, 375 coaches are being converted by Indian Railways in a day. The work is being carried out at 133 locations in the country. 

The Tribune offers more details of the conversion:

“One toilet on each coach is to be converted into a bathing room … The first cabin near the bathing room shall be provided with two hospital-style curtains in the aisle so that the entry and exit to the entire row of cabins can be screened off. This cabin will be used as store and area for paramedics.”

In all, Indian Railways said 20,000 coaches would be available for potential conversion.

Public transportation assets have proved adept at being repurposed to serve a human need. In San Francisco, Lava Mae converted a fleet of city busses into mobile hygiene units (a project featured in the Reprogramming the City Book).

A project in London shows another example of Covid Resourcefulness in a preventive manner, proposing to convert open-top tour busses into commuter vehicles to lessen the risk of Covid transmission.

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