By Elton Gomes
“Though e-toilets have been common in use in static locations, the concept will be tried for the first time in a mobile environment of a railway coach,” the Central Railway said in a press release, as per an ANI report.
The e-toilets were installed on Monday, November 19, in coach 3A of the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus-Coimbatore Express (LTT-Coimbatore). The toilets will be monitored for performance and customer feedback, the railways said.
The Indian Railways partnered with Eram Scientific, a Kerala-based company, to build the toilets. Eram Scientific is involved in water and sanitation sectors.
These “environment-friendly toilets”, as claimed by Eram Scientific, are easy to install due to their pre-fabricated steel structure. The e-toilet’s other features include improvised ventilation system and compatibility with the existing bio-toilets. The Railways hopes to put an end to commuters’ hygiene complaints through the use of e-toilets.
What are the features of e-toilet?
These e-toilets make flushing easier. The flush operates automatically when someone opens the toilet door. This concept is currently being monitored. If it is feasible, these e-toilets would be installed in other coaches as well.
Credit: The Financial Express/YouTube
Since the toilet pan gets automatically flushed on sensing the opening of the toilet door, each new user gets a clean hygienic toilet. Pressure nozzles integrated within the toilet pan ensure pressurised flushing.
All round flushing is ensured due to the custom designed Indian pan which is equipped with an adequately sloped floor. Moreover, the floor is automatically flushed clean after five usages.
Concealed piping is another major feature of these e-toilets. The pipes have reduced joints which enables an increased flow of pressure. The interiors have been done using recycled plastic crib sheets, empty tetra packs, and shredded plastic waste made from empty toothpaste/cosmetic tubes. The e-toilets also feature an improved ventilation system.
The Railways had earlier introduced vacuum toilets and bio-toilets. A vacuum toilet is equipped with a bio-digester to convert the waste into water. It also has a suction pump that sucks out waste without the need for much water to flush it. Bio-toilets, on the other hand, are installed underneath the lavatories and the human waste discharged into them is then acted upon by a colony of anaerobic bacteria. The bacteria converts the human waste mainly into water and small amount of bio-gases, which escape into atmosphere and waste water is discharged after chlorination onto the track. Thus, the human waste does not fall on the railway tracks.
Vacuum toilets are better than bio-toilets since they use less water. A bio-toilet typically uses 10-15 litres of water per flush, whereas the vacuum toilet consumes only about half a litre.
Railways installed vacuum toilets in April after bio-toilets failure
The Railways will be hoping that e-toilets prove to be a success, particularly because their previous attempts to revamp toilets were not very successful. In April 2018, the Railways installed vacuum toilets after bio-toilets proved to be a failure. The bio-toilets were a failure as they were prone to clogging since bottles, pouches, plastic cups, paper and other materials were dumped in the pans. Moreover, there were numerous complaints of foul odour.
“We are beginning with the procurement of 2,000 vacuum toilets for 13 trains — and later many more trains will have this facility,” a senior Railway Ministry official had told IANS in April.
The Railways had planned to install vacuum toilets in all coaches of the Bandra-Nizamuddin Rajdhani Special, Maharashtra Sampark Kranti Express, Bandra-Ghazipur City Express, Mumbai Veraval Express, Dibrugarh Rajdhani, Kaifiyat Express, Vivek Express, Kolkata-Ghazipur City Express, Ananya Express, and Poorva Express.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius