Railway Units To Manufacture Healthcare Equipment To Contain COVID-19


Hinting at a possible long haul, Indian Railways has started exploring possibilities of manufacturing personal protective equipment which include face mask and hand gloves on a large scale at its production units and workshops to cater to the growing demand in the wake of coronavirus scare.

The State-run transporter which is already in the business of the packaged potable water has started making masks and sanitizers, the very basic protective gear against the COVID-19.

In fact, many railway workshops have already started the process of making hand sanitizer and masks to be distributed at various rail units as part of its preparedness to contain the pandemic.

It may be recalled that during the Second World War, rail workshops at Jamalpur, Trichy, Andal and Kanchrapara among others had manufactured armored vehicles, ambulances, grenades and repaired Royal Air Force aircraft.

Currently, ICF near Chennai has the capability to manufacture vehicles with grenade launchers facility.

Joining the country-wide lockdown, Railways, which had already cancelled the passenger-carrying trains completely till March 31, extended the suspension of service to April 14 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

However, with the rapid jump in corona cases in the recent past showing no sign of recession, it seems to be a long protracted battle against the deadly virus.

Keeping the possible higher demand for personal protective equipment in mind, railways is leaving no stone unturned and gearing up for the production of healthcare equipment at its several facilities across the country.

The diesel shed at Andal in Asansol division has produced 500 litres of hand sanitizer.

Railways’ Jodhpur division has made 215-litres sanitizer to be distributed at different rail units. The purpose is to explore ways to utilise railways resources for containing the COVID-19, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Branded as IR products, many more workshops and production units are likely to be equipped to produce this protective equipment in large quantities after procuring raw materials.

Even though the masks are not N95 masks, but they are good enough for basic protection which is the need of the hour, said the official.

In Jharkhand, there are reports that masks made out of leaves being used by common people in this hour of global crisis.

Northern Railway carriage and wagons department, located in Firozpur along with chemicals and metallurgical unit officials manufactured hand sanitizers at a cost of Rs 310 per litre.

With the COVID-19 looming large, the train services including all Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto, Vande Bharat, Tejas, other Mail/Express trains including Konkan Railway, Suburban service and Kolkata Metro will be cancelled till
April 14, 2020.

However, goods trains will continue to operate to deliver essential items like milk, vegetables, petroleum products, food grains besides bulk products like iron ore, coal, cement and fertiliser among others.