At Anand Vihar on Monday, the last few trains rolled in and out of the station. According to a Northern Railways notification, the five pairs of trains for which Anand Vihar served as the terminal would now be shifted to Old Delhi Railway station.
The Northern Railways has suspended operation of all train services from Anand Vihar station in East Delhi to dedicate the terminal to housing 170-180 isolation coaches for Covid-19 patients.
On Monday, empty isolation coaches were parked in the station’s coachyard — yet to be cleaned, medically equipped, and sanitised.
According to a Northern Railways spokesperson, each coach will be equipped with three oxygen cylinders: “We are also providing water, electricity and charging facilities, PPE kits and RPF staff to ensure only authorised personnel can enter. Once all that is in place, we will hand the coaches over to the state government. We had already handed over 57 coaches at Shakurbasti and it is up to the Delhi government to begin using them. Tomorrow, we will hand over 170-180 coaches at Anand Vihar, and 20 more at another station. We are looking to finalise the location of the remaining 250 coaches.”
According to a Home Ministry order, each coach is to provide 16 beds.
In each of the empty coaches prepared for isolation, the first cubicle has been separated from the rest with a plastic sheet and designated as ‘Doctor’s Cabin’.
According to an official at the station, two trains which were in the yard had come in from Lucknow with basic fittings: “They just need to be cleaned and are yet to be sanitised. We can expect to hand them over by Tuesday afternoon.
There will be around 180 isolation coaches accommodated at this station. The rest will be across other stations such as Shakurbasti, Safdarjung, and so on.”
Each coach has been equipped by the railways with 27 dustbins, six soap dispensers, a bucket, a mug, and so on. The beds on the coaches lay bare, not yet fitted with linen. The windows of all the sleeper and second-class coaches — since they don’t have sealed glass windows like the AC coaches — have been lined with mosquito nets. In the heat of the afternoon sun, two railways workers inspected each window and taped the mosquito nets wherever they came loose.
A Delhi government spokesperson said the details of how these trains will be medically equipped is still under discussion and will be undertaken as a joint effort by the state and central governments.
As per government guidelines, the isolation coaches can be used for very mild cases that can be clinically assigned to Covid Care centres as per guidelines issued by Union Health Ministry. The isolation coaches are made as Covid-care level 1 centres.
The order to allot coaches to Delhi was issued by the MHA Sunday, following a meeting between Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt-Governor Anil Baijal. It directed that “500 railway coaches with medical and paramedical staff, oxygen cylinders, etc, to be deployed by the Ministry of Railways by June 15”.
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