TOILET discharge into the open from passenger trains is perhaps unique to the Indian railway system. Apart from the highly undesirable environmental pollution it causes, it leads to severe corrosion of the rails and their fastenings as the toilet chutes are located almost directly above the rails. It is, in fact, a major cause of corrosion of the rails. This problem is not to be dismissed lightly because the economic cost of corrosion of rails (which, of course, includes normal environmental corrosion) in the Indian context is very significant.
Modification of the toilet discharge system by the Indian Railways, as announced by the Railways Minister a couple of years ago, by replacing the present system with green toilets or aircraft-style vacuum toilets, is certainly welcome, but that addresses only a part of the corrosion problem. Atmospheric corrosion of rails, particularly in coastal regions which accounts for a significant fraction of the Indian network, is also a serious issue requiring urgent attention