Bio-toilets to replace conventional train lavatories soon

All trains under the Palakkad Railway Division will have bio-toilets by the mid of next month.

Railways across the country have been retrofitting thousands of coaches with bio-toilets as part of an ambitious Clean Rail, Clean India programme.

As many as 586 coaches under the Palakkad division are getting bio-toilet retrofit.

Railway officials said that 31 rakes used by nine mails and expresses and 19 pairs of passenger trains would totally convert to bio-toilets by July 15.

Although Railways started using bio-toilets on an experimental basis a few years ago, several changes were effected in the modern lavatory system that does not release the human toilet waste on the rail tracks.

Unlike the conventional train toilets, which release human excreta directly on the rail tracks causing damage to the metal tracks and to the environment, the bio-toilet will collect the waste in a multi-chamber tank and decompose it using high-graded bacteria.

The new toilet system treats excreta at the source. The multi-chamber tank fitted underneath the lavatory in the coach will be filled with anaerobic inoculum bacteria adapted for varying temperatures. The bacteria converts the excreta into methane and carbon dioxide gases and water. The water and gases can be safely released into the environment.

It was with the Duronto express that Railways began its bio-toilet drive in 2011. Officials said that more than 50,000 coaches were to be retrofitted with bio-toilets across the country by the end of this year.

Officials said that the new bio-toilet tanks would have a water trap system with a 2.5-inch S-trap, which will prevent the air from getting into the tank. However, the bio-toilets will have natural ventilation.

Railway officials said that retrofitting of a bio-toilet would cost nearly ₹1 lakh.

Great relief

Bio-toilets will give the railway staff and the passengers a great relief, especially at stations. Kannur used to be one of the worst-affected stations in Kerala as there were widespread complaints from passengers about the stench emanating from the toilet droppings at the station.

However, dropping of clothes, papers, bottles, plastic bags, cups and napkins in the bio-toilet can cause blockage, leading to foul smell and hardships. “We are trying to educate the passengers the best way we can,” said M.K. Gopinath, Divisional Railway PRO.

As bio-toilets with its unique features work almost like the flush toilets used in homes, the Railways have begun publicising the shift with the objective of educating the passengers about the need to keep the lavatories clean.


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