Human to human transmission being the main reason behind the faster spread of the novel Coronavirus has led us all to reconsider our travel options.
What we need right now is the surety that the transport we are planning to travel in has the safety measures in place. To ensure the same, Indian Railways have come up with a necessary change.
Rail travel is all set to get much safer from Covid-19 with the air conditioned coaches having a greater quantity of fresh air being pumped into them. The process is pretty much like what happens in hospitals and operation theatres.
Studies have proven that air conditioning systems accelerate the spread of viral infections, especially the novel coronavirus since most air conditioning systems recycle the same air with very few air changes.
An initial experiment has already been commenced on the 15 pairs of trains that run on the Rajdhani routes since May 12 as part of the national transporter's preparations for post-COVID operations. The same will soon be replicated on trains on other routes as well. It involves replacing the air intake in the Roof Mounted AC Package Unit (RMPU) system of Indian Railways AC coaches 16 to 18 times per hour.
Current air flow systems in the RMPU are designed to change the air 6 to 8 times per hour, resulting in 80% of the air being recirculated air with only 20% fresh air. Operation Theatres use 100% fresh air as chances of infection are extremely high.
Alongside, the temperature settings for the air conditioning will be increased by 2 degrees Celsius, from 23 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius since passengers are no longer provided any linen or blankets. However, all these changes will necessarily increase the energy consumption for one, recirculated air cools faster and greater the fresh air intake, greater the time taken to cool it. The railways expects an increase of 10-15% in its energy consumption which could possibly lead to an increase in fares as well.
On the advice of the health experts, the Railways' has modified its non-AC coaches as isolation coaches for treating mild coronavirus cases and said that they have also applied health ministry guidelines to modify the ac units on board the special Rajdhani trains to ensure that the disease does not spread.