“ If people cannot reach hospitals, why not hospitals be taken to the people ”. With this thought in mind, the Impact India Foundation (IIF), a Mumbai based initiative which is supported by UNDP, UNICEF, and WHO wrote to the Ministry of Health. As well as to the Indian Railways about starting a ‘hospitable train’ in India. Lifeline Express caters to the needs of the people. Moreover, those who are deprived of medical care and medicines.

Some further steps and strenuous efforts resulted in the running of the world’s first hospital train. The Lifeline Express on 16 July 1991 from Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai to give its first service in Khalari(Bihar).

Lifeline express


Initially, the train had 3 coaches with general medicines for the treatment of Polio, skin burns. Also had types of equipment for treating the disfigured nose, ears, and lips.

”When we started running the train, we found so many children with polio-related deformities”

-Dr.Rohini Chowgule, a trustee at the IIF

With the passage of time and the increase in the need for medical facilities, the train also upgraded its services. Presently, the coaches have modern facilities like WiFi and LED displays. The range of treatment has upgraded to dental care, gynecology units, plastic surgeries. Also recently new coaches are added, for cancer treatment, by Indian Railways.

At present, the train has got 8 coaches. All AC equipped with 5 operating tables.Along with 2 modern operation theatres and other facilities.

Features of lifeline express


Ever since its start, the Lifeline Express keeps on providing better services to the people. To those who don’t have direct access to basic health care.Also for whom hospitals are far away from their places. Every year, the express carries out several projects. In it, they go to selected places. There the medical staff provides the services for 20-25 days. In 1991, it did two projects, both in Bihar, and in coming years, the projects grew in number.

Up to 2019, more than 10 lakh people have been treated successfully free of cost. Moreover, thousands of medical staff comprising of senior doctors, attendants, and nurses put in their efforts and time in making the projects a success. In 2020, the train also transformed its coaches into covid treatment wards. The first project of 2021 has started from 5 to 24 January. Especially would be carried out in Assam. Every year, the train covers around 1-2 lakh km traveling across various states. Also, into the rural and interior regions far from main cities. Most of the projects in the states of Maharashtra followed by Rajasthan, MP, UP, and Karnataka.

With its increasing popularity, the Lifeline Express also serves as an inspiration to many countries. Like South Africa, Bangladesh, etc. to initiate similar services either by trains or boats.




This philanthropic initiative keeps surviving. Due to the continuous efforts of the skillful and generous medical staff. The companies like TATA STEEL, BHEL, Bharat Petroleum, Mahindra & Mahindra, Voltas. Along with many more, keep financing their expenditure. From time to time to make sure that the hospital train keeps on saving more and more lives.

Shashwat Malasi

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