Q1. What kind of patients will be admitted in Covid care coaches?
A. The special train coaches may be used for mild/very mild cases that can be clinically assigned to Covid care centres as per the guidelines of the MoHFW. These coaches may be used in the areas where the State has exhausted the facilities and is looking to augment capacities for isolation of both suspected and confirmed cases.
Q2. What are the protocols to be followed? Is there any SOP issued?
A. Guidance document on appropriate management of suspected and confirmed cases was issued which consists of the protocols to be followed. Northern Railways (NR) discussed with the UP government and jointly issued another local protocol as a follow up to the guidance document. NR is trying to implement the same protocol at other places. SOP to be followed by all railway staff is also mentioned in this local protocol.
Q3. What are the features of this SOP?
- Ministry of railways as its contribution to the national cause has initiated conversion of coaches into Covid care centres to provide additional beds for Covid-19 patients as and when required.
- After the allocation by the Railways, the train shall be placed at required locations with necessary infrastructure and handed over to the District Collector or District Magistrate or one of their authorised persons
- State government shall map at least one dedicated hospital for each train so that patients can be shifted to the hospital in case of emergency
- State government shall make suitable ambulance arrangements for shifting of patients, preferably one basic life supporting ambulance with oxygen and ambu bag should be stationed at the railway station where the train is placed
- IR has the medical facilities available in 85 stations out of 215 where it had offered to supplement the medical staff.
- Maintenance of coaches and charging will be the responsibility of Railways
- Railways can also arrange catering services as per the requirement by the State government
- Security, signage, CCTV coverage and free Wifi will be provided by IR
- All railways staff deployed at such railway stations will report to the Nodal Officer appointed by the State government who has taken over the train.
Q4. How many railway employees have been found Covid positive in Northern Railways? How many have recovered?
- NR has lost 10-15 men. One senior officer died yesterday in Ferozpur
- Northern Railways hospital had received 404 patients from Railways and its beneficiaries out of which 304 patients have recovered and discharged
- 4 officers of DRM, Delhi Office are home quarantined
- Priority of railways is to provide relief to the railway employees and reduce the burden on State government hospitals
Q5. What are the guidelines Railways is following for testing?
A. Railways has developed the testing as per the ICMR guidelines. NR has got the approval from Delhi government and ICMR.
Q6. What equipment is used for testing by Railways?
A. TrueNat and RT-PCR
Q7. How many hospitals have been dedicated by Northern Railways as Covid care hospitals for the use of State governments?
Q8. What is meant by 317 coaches being ready to receive patients?
A. Coaches placed at different locations have been redesigned for the Covid patients. Each of these trains and coaches have standard configuration to suit the patients and medical staff. Railways has arranged security, watering for coaches, power backups and other facilities for the medical staff. But each coach needs to be equipped with necessary things such as oxygen cylinders, dustbins, insulation from heat, conversion of toilets into bathing units, charging of AC coaches etc. Those things have been completed for 50 coaches at Shakurbasti as of 10 June, 2020. Another 267 coaches in Anand Vihar will be completed by 17 June, 2020. Remaining 186 will be completed by June 18, 2020.
Q9. How is Railways planning to tackle the heat inside the coaches?
A. Railways has made arrangements for cooling of coaches. At Shakurbasti, coaches are covered with a shed over the roof. There is an option of a paint which can reduce the temperature. There is an option of using insulating materials of 2-3 kinds which can reduce the temperature. Railways will make sure that patients don’t suffer too much due to heat. Fans are kept in all the coaches. Other methods for cooling coaches like sprinkling of water, certains fans blowing towards the coaches for better air circulation etc. are also being tried. Railways is also crowdsourcing and department sourcing ideas to deal with this issue.
Q10. When patients are going to arrive at these coaches?
A. Till now it hasn’t been decided. Covid care coaches are considered as an extension of the hospital and they will decide when they need more capacity. Hospitals in those areas where the outbreak is more will decide when they need more resources and then they will be coming.
Q11. What is the cost incurred per coach to NR for redesigning and equipping with facilities such as oxygen cylinders, removal of middle seats, conversion of toilets into bathrooms etc?
A. General Sleeper (GS) coaches have been used whose codal life is coming to end in the next 2 years. There is no expenditure in removal and fixing of berths. Use of dustbins and curtains is not very costly. Oxygen cylinders have been hired. Expenditure is not too much, maybe a few thousands here and there. Railways had done these works during lockdown when trains were not running and staff were idle.
Q12. What will happen to the Covid care coaches after Covid-19 duty?
A. When these coaches complete their Covid duties they will go back to the train services either as GS coches or may be fitted out middle berth sleeper coaches or perhaps may be the other class of 2-tier coaches again.
Q13. Is there any plan to place these coaches at stations other than Anand Vihar in Delhi?
|S. No.||Station name||No. of coaches stationed|
Q14 Which are the other states than UP and Delhi shown interest in seeking Railways help for Covid care coaches?
A. Bihar and Telangana
Q15. How many coaches have been demanded by these states?
A. No data available
Q16. When hospitals are going to shift their patients?
A. No indications have been received till date. Railways will utilise all its resources for service to the nation
Q17. IRCTC is going to provide the food facilities to the patients in the coaches but who is going to bear the cost of the concerned State government or the Indian Railways?
A. Catering is the responsibility of NR and Railways has requested IRCTC to provide catering services. Railways is not looking at cost at all
Q18. Is there any decision to increase the number of special trains in the New Delhi and Kolkata route?
A. No such plans have been decided till date.
Q19. Is there any plan to increase the isolation wards for Delhi apart from these 500 plus coaches?
A. Railways has not received further requests for extra coaches. But if it is required, then it can be done as per the guidelines from Government of India. Meanwhile, 8,000 beds are not a small quantity. Let it be fully utilised. It is assumed that those who are coming will also be fully recovered and return back.
Q20. Is there any plan to appoint a Coordinating Officer from Railways for coordination with State governments or hospitals?
A. Every station will have two liaison officers round the clock. One for maintenance and support services and other for doctors. Train and Station will be under the control of the State government. There will be a mini control room at each station which will be connected to the divisional and the central control room. Rail Mantralaya is having a control room for monitoring purposes. Special Officer has been deployed by the Hon’ble minister for looking after these trains wherever they are and to provide the necessary support of Rail Mantralaya to the Zones.
Q21. Will AC coaches be used in the beginning?
A. AC coaches are not for patients. They will only be used for nursing staff and doctors appointed by the State governments. They will be quarantined in the AC coaches. If MoHFW feels that AC coaches can be used for patients also then it will be Covid care coach version 2.0. It is not possible to retrofit those current coaches.
Q22. Will railways keep their doctors and medicines as backup at such locations in UP and Bihar where isolation coaches will be stationed?
A. Railways is willing to extend the support at those locations where facilities are available. There is clear instruction from the Hon’ble Minister that wherever these coaches will be stationed in the other States, one doctor and one officer will be available round the clock at the stations.
Q23. Is there any planning to increase the number of coaches if requests come from the State government and how many coaches can be increased?
A. Whatever will be the requirement, railways will deliver it. 500 coaches are deployed at very specific locations where a high level platform is available and access can be provided to ambulances by road. Logistics support is very important. Initially, when requirements came to the railways, 500 coaches were readied per day. If there is any further direction from the government then Northern Railways can ready another 500 coaches within 2 days.
Q24. When work on insulation of coaches will start? Pre-arrival or post-arrival of patients?
A. Experimentation will be completed within 2 days and insulation will either be done on the rooftops or near the windows. It will not be impacted due to arrival of patients. Railways is also seeking ideas from the public on dealing with this issue. For example coaches stationed at Shakurbasti are covered with shed. Railways will definitely find solutions if required.
Q25. Will there be any difference due to monsoon?
A. Monsoon will reduce the atmospheric temperature. At the same time humidity will increase which can be controlled by fans fitted inside the coaches.
Q26. Will there be any water logging or leakage due to monsoon?
Q27. How many employees of Railways will be deployed?
A. Deployment of manpower is dependent on the requirement and number of coaches. e.g. 267 coaches are stationed at Anand Vihar which will require approximately 100 employees per day for various works like cleaning, maintenance, charging, watering, waste collection etc. On the other hand 50 coaches at Shakurbasti will roughly require 20 employees per day.
Q28. Considering the safety of railway employees what kind of training has been imparted to those employees who will be deputed for Covid care duty?
A. When a patient enters a ward, it will become like a hospital which will have a certain perimeter. Only medical staff are allowed to enter inside that perimeter. PPE kits, face masks, face shields, gloves etc will be provided to sanitation workers and maintenance staff. Railways is producing 1.5 lakh PPE kits per month and capacity is going to increase in future.
Q29. Are the coaches placed at other locations such as Rohilla Sarai, Tughlakabad etc?
- Coaches have been stationed at those locations. Railways is arranging accessories such as dustbins, mosquito nets, first aid kits, oxygen cylinders etc to be fitted inside the coaches. Work will be completed by 18 June, 2020 in all 517 coaches.
- Anand Vihar will be completed by 17 June, 2020.
Q30. Sub-urban trains have started in Mumbai. When will local trains in Delhi start?
A. Local trains in Mumbai are used only by staff of essential services. It has not been started for the public. Borders of Delhi with neighboring states have recently been opened. This is not the right time to perforate those borders with trains.
Q31. The location of Covid care coaches are mostly at those stations where EMU, DMU or other passenger trains were used by the public for going to work. Now most of the private and public offices are open in Delhi and the demand is increasing to start the passenger trains. What is the plan on starting local trains in these locations?
A. Locations were strategically chosen so that train services should not get affected. Local trains will be started after further directions from the Government of India. Nobody should speculate about it.
Q32. How many AC coaches will be available in one Covid-care unit? In what way these AC coaches will be used?
- 20-22 coaches have been stationed per platform and extra 2 AC coaches will be attached to these rakes per platform. One more place has been arranged for medical staff for the removal of PPE kits, may be in one of the AC coaches. It will be dependent on the site. If platform length is not sufficient then a tent or a new room will be erected.
- 517 coaches are only for the Covid patients and it doesn’t include AC coaches
- AC coaches are provided for medical staff who are working on the basis of roaster. These AC coaches will be used as a rest house where medical staff can home quarantine
- In Delhi, 503 Covid care coaches are placed where patients will be kept
- AC coaches will house medical supplies, refreshment for medical staff.
Q33. What will be the composition of AC coaches?
- 20 coaches for Covid care hospital and additional 2 AC coaches for medical staff. e.g. at some places 13 coaches are placed at each platform and 2 extra AC coaches are attached to 13 rakes.
- At Anand Vihar, 24 coaches are placed in some platforms for patients and 2 extra AC coaches attached to 24 rakes.
Q34. What are the challenges in maintaining the AC coaches?
A. AC coaches are mainly functional when the train is running because it works on self-charging mechanism. Battery will drain out if it is idle at one place. It is the challenge for our technicians to keep on running these coaches.
Q35. What arrangements have been made for paramedical staff and doctors?
A. Certain guidelines have been issued by the MoHFW. It is the responsibility of the State government who will take over these assets as an extension of a hospital, attach a hospital to these trains or coaches of the station and shift the patients to that hospital in case the need be. Hospital attached by the State government is responsible for handling the paramedical, medical and bio-medical wastes.