The Lifeline Express : World’s first hospital train


Nancy Tirthani
The Lifeline Express (Jeevan Rekha Express)
was to reach Chainpur Railway Station. The
station was richly decorated with various coloured papers. Children had come to welcome the Express with coloured paper flags. When the train was seen coming, the band started playing and the children
clapped. All were happy to see the train painted in red, yellow and blue colours. When it slid into the siding, the children climbed into it. Inside it they saw the operating tables and other necessary medical equipments.

The Lifeline Express or the Jeevan Rekha
Express is known all over the world as the first hospital train which started running on 16 July 1991. It expects to cover thousands of miles to provide medical and surgical care to the remotest villages in the country.

The train was made in collaboration between the Impact India Foundation (IIF), Indian Railways (IR) and the Health Ministry.

One reporter joined the Express at Khalari. It
is a tiny coalmining village in Bihar. The train had its stop there. The station building had been taken to function as a hospital for various activities, such as calliper workshop, diagnostic centre and providing accommodation to the patients. The train is filled with 2 modern operation theatres, 5 operating tables & other facilities.

Mainly, orthopaedic operations for polio,
cataract and middle-ear part of the body are done in the Express. Callipers, spectacles and hearing aids are also fitted in it. This is a part of an immunisation and health education programme.
Dr. Satish Sinha, an orthopaedic surgeon, heads the team of doctors from Jamshedpur. Patients from across the state are treated free of cost on the train.

Vijay Yadav was the first child to be operated on in Khalari. Sporting a white plastic calliper he walks without crutches now. Vijay contracted polio at the age of seven. He used home-made crutches. He could not go anywhere without help. His brother Vishvanath is very happy at Vijay’s operation. The reporter asked Vijay what he would do as he could walk then. Vijay said he would go to school, play football and become an engineer.

The reporter asked Bushan Hemade, the designer of the callipers, what would happen if the callipers were not replaced as the children operated upon grew up. Hemade told that contractures could reoccur in that condition. He, however, said that if they had not been operated on, their bodies would have grown crooked and twisted.

The Lifeline Express has made a health impact both, in India and around the world where it has inspired similar initiatives. Meanwhile, the Lifeline Express has created an interest in other countries. African officials have sought an advice to have one such train in their country.

Why it is named jeevan rekha because
the Lifeline Express, better known as Jeevan Rekha Express, is a unique idea of delivering health services to masses, especially the under-privileged. It is a mobile hospital train which travels all over rural India as a part of free medical treatment to the neglected poor.

The train is upgraded from time to time as technology advances.
The special train provides treatment to patients across the country, mainly those who come from far-flung and remote areas under the government’s flagship programme.
Besides creating awareness about Cancer, The Jeevan Rekha Express offers services for eye treatment, dental care, hearing issues, plastic surgical correction, epilepsy, counselling and referral services, Liaison with local health authorities, immunizations and other preventive measures.
The Lifeline Express train is presently stationed at the Badarpur station in Lumding Div. of NFR in Assam.


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