Antimicrobial Copper touch surfaces are becoming increasingly common in hospitals, but a train on the Valparaiso Metro in Chile is the first of its kind to be equipped with Antimicrobial Copper hand rails and poles. The move is intended to help reduce the risk of infections spreading between the Metro’s 18 million annual users and improve the public transport experience.
Antimicrobial Copper is a portfolio of materials – comprising copper and copper alloys – that benefit from copper’s inherent ability to rapidly kill bacteria, viruses and fungi on contact. Given an estimated 80% of infections are spread by touch, manufacturing frequently-touched surfaces such as hand rails, light switches, taps and door handles from materials that will continuously kill germs – 24/7 and in between regular cleaning – can help reduce the spread of infection.
The new, two-car train can carry up to 800 passengers and is the result of a partnership between Chilean state-owned company Codelco and the world’s leading transport company, Alstom. The initiative follows the outfitting of stations on the Santiago Metro with Antimicrobial Copper hand rails, and is planned for extension to other trains and metro networks in Chile.
‘Codelco is a world pioneer in developing Antimicrobial Copper projects to improve people’s quality of life, especially in the fields of health and public transport,’ explains Thomas Keller, CEO of Codelco.
‘Improving the travel experience for passengers is in our DNA,’ adds July Friedmann, Vice President of Alstom South Cone. ‘We’re taking the first step, presenting the world’s first copper train, and hope that other networks will be interested in the health benefits it can offer.’
Chile’s Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Pedro Pablo Errazuriz, was aboard the train for its maiden voyage and noted: ‘This is an important initiative that adds to the progress being made by the Valparaiso Metro in enhancing the travel experience. It reaffirms our commitment to strengthening the strategic role of public transport railways.’
The Antimicrobial Copper hand rails, made by Chilean manufacturers, are a robust copper alloy, which will be hard-wearing and offers a beautiful, instantly-noticeable reminder to passengers that their health is being given top priority.