Foot operated water taps and lavatory doors, plasma air purification – Indian Railways rolls out its post-COVID coach

In an effort to restrict the spread of the coronavirus during travel, the Indian Railways has rolled out a prototype of what it calls the first ‘Post COVID Coach’.

The new railway coach is designed to reduce the odds of someone getting infected by the virus  during a train journey, by adding hands-free amenities to reduce surface contact.  It has been designed at the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala, Punjab.

“Sustaining the ruthless fight against Covid-19, Indian Railways’ production unit, Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, has developed a Post Covid Coach to fight Covid 19. This post Covid coach has design improvements in the coach like hands-free amenities, copper-coated handrails & latches, plasma air purification and titanium di-oxide coating for Covid free passenger journey,” the Indian Railways said in a press release.

“The post-Covid coach has hands-free amenities like foot operated water tap & soap dispenser, foot operated lavatory door (outside), foot operated flush valve, foot operated latches in lavatory door, wash basins with foot operated water taps and soap dispenser and forearm operated handle on compartment doors.”

The coaches will be equipped with copper-coated handrails and latches. Copper has antimicrobial properties.

The post-Covid coach has a provision of plasma air equipment in its AC duct. “This plasma air equipment will sterilise the air and surfaces inside the AC coach using ionised air to make the coach Covid-19 and particulate matter resistant,” the railways said.

The coach is provided with titanium di-oxide coating. “This is an eco-friendly water-based coating that kills viruses, bacteria, mould, and fungal growth and most importantly enhances indoor air quality. This coating is applied on washbasins, lavatory, seats & berths, snack table, glass window, floor and virtually every surface that comes in contact. Effective life of this coating is 12 months.”

▪️ Hands-free amenities: A number of facilities that usually required people to use their hands now come with pedals, making them foot-operated. The coach is fitted with a foot-operated water tap, soap dispenser and washbasin. The lavatory door, too, comes with a pedal, as do the flush valves and latches inside. The compartment door is fitted with a special handle that opened and closed using your forearm.

▪️ Copper-coating on handrails and latches: This was done keeping in mind copper’s antimicrobial properties. Copper is believed to degrade any virus or pathogen that lands on it within a few hours, says the note released by the Railway minister.

▪️ Plasma air purification: The coach comes equipped with a plasma air purification system in its air-conditioning duct that disinfects the air as well as surfaces inside the coach “using ionised air”. This is to ensure that its occupants are protected from COVID-19 or particulate matter in the air.

▪️ Titanium dioxide coating: This has been applied over washbasins, the lavatory, seats and berths, snack tables, glass windows, floors and “virtually every surface that comes in human contact”. This eco-friendly, water-based coating “kills viruses, bacteria, mould and fungal growth and, most importantly, enhances indoor air quality”, according to the Railways.