Soon, aircraft-like toilets for railways

Tired of avoiding a visit to Indian Railways toilets reeking with a nauseating stench? Get ready to excuse yourself into natty and fanciful washrooms fitted with airplane-like vacuum toilets.

New railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who hails from Chandigarh — one of the cleanest cities of India has put the new aviation style engineering design for railways on a fast track.

“We have identified some 55 cities where toilet systems of trains badly need to be revamped. These systems are part of the second phase plan of cleanliness improvement, after we introduced the bio-toilets earlier this year,” Bansal told TOI.

These vacuum systems are part of a Rs 800-crore railways revamp plan, which includes installation of 2,500 bio-toilets and on-board facilities like satellite TV and wireless internet.

A global bid for 80 such systems for 40 coach sets was launched by the railway board on January 31 this year.
Once procured, these toilets will be fitted by the rail coach factory (RCF) at Kapurthala. RCF has already produced 1,200 bio-toilets based on the technology by the defence research development organisation (DRDO) this year for the Indian Railways.

“The DRDO technology, in which the water passes through a chlorine tank and is discharged as clean water while the gas generated evaporates, is already the first-of-its kind in the world. With vacuum technology systems, our trains would be as sophisticated as those in Europe,” said B N Rajshekhar, chairman, RCF.

The decision to introduce vacuum toilet systems was first mooted on March 28, 2011, by the railway board’s mechanical engineering wing director Ajay Singh.

However, the plan was put on hold as railways also wanted to finalize the ground handling facilities and mobile evacuation facilities for trains using these toilets at New Delhi station.

These vacuum systems will now be the fourth type of prototype for the Railways after bio-toilets (using DRDO technology), US-imported anaerobic bacteria bio-toilets and controlled discharge toilet system (CDTS) used in Shatabdis and Rajdhanis.

The toilets with anaerobic bacteria consume the waste material and convert it into water and gas. While in CDTS, the discharge is released in its original state but only a train has attained a minimum speed of 30km per hour.

“However, even that is a problem as the waste is released on the tracks, which not only corrodes them (railway tracks) but the procedure to clean it remains difficult,” said Bansal.

The minister also shared that IIT Kanpur along with Lucknow’s research development and standards organisation (RDSO) was developing a zero discharge toilet system (ZDTS). Like vacuum technology, ZDTS too uses both recycling and evacuation.

At present, 47,980 coaches are used regularly for passenger service over Indian Railways. Keeping this population in the view, railways has to operate 1,60,000 toilets on coaches clocking speeds of 100 kmph plus.

Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 8:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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