AIR spotlight summary on “Railway Safety Measures”.

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AIR spotlight summary on “Railway Safety Measures”.


Introduction

Recently the Indore Rajendranagar express met with an accident. This kind of an incident is taking place after 7 years where so many people have lost their lives. The preliminary report suggests that there was a track fracture and there was possibly a human error on part of the driver that he applied the emergency brake. If he hadn’t applied the emergency brake, the casualty would have been on a lower side.

Kakodkar Committee Recommendations

  • The Kakodkar Committee recommended that almost 1 Lakh crore rupees should be invested for the safety measures in the railways. This should be used for the renewing the rolling stocks and the tracks.
  • There should be Rail over Bridges (ROBs) and Rail under Bridges (RUBs). This process is taking place but it is a huge task which takes lot of time.
  • Railways should defer the dividend payment to the central government so that the funds could be utilised for the safety works.
  • The railways should impose safety cess.

Sam Pitroda committee Recommendations

  • Sam Pitroda committee report which recommended that 5 Lakh crore rupees should be invested for overall safety measures. These reports pointed out that the large number of accidents is taking place at railway level crossing.

Problems in the Rail sector

  • The traffic load on tracks is going up with new trains being introduced each year along with goods trains and the track renewal is not taking place correspondingly.
  • Inadequate training of the man power
  • Material defect which may be undetected and under stress leads to accidents.
  • Lack of maintenance of railway assets like tracks and various equipments.
  • Logistics problem– lack of Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB)  LHB coaches have better safety records. The coaches do not mount on each other and derail in the event of an accident.
  • If we see the record of the railways in the last few years there is an improvement in the number of accidents, derailments and casualties.  
  • In the present times the focus appears to be on laying new rail lines in place of replacing the old railway lines which may have over exhausted their investment capacity.
  • There has been reluctance on the part of the government to take tough measures to increases the passenger fares which are highly cross subsidised. The railways are under the financial crunch and it is borrowing funds from liaison financial institutions. There is 30,000 crore subsidy on passenger services. The government must think of increasing the fares gradually.
  • The government has set a target of investing 8.5 lakh crores till 2019. In the last 10 years there hasn’t been enough investment of funds in the railways.

How to Reduce Accidents?

  • Massive investments in replacing the ICF coaches with LHB coaches.
  • Improve maintenance– maintenance requires consistent supply of funds to the Depreciation Reserve Fund.
  • Training of staff – There are large number of training institutes. The railways training programmes are regularly conducted along with refresher courses. The failure which takes place is because of operating staff and drivers who tend to work for long hours which can cause lack of efficiency.

Need of the Hour

  • Detecting equipment failure: If there is any rail fracture, it should be immediately sensed so that the train can be controlled in advance.
  • Providing sensing equipments in the rail bogies.
  • Automatic train control systems to ensure that if the signal is red the brakes apply automatically.
  • Building Rail over Bridges (ROBs) and Rail under Bridges (RUBs) is very important requirement because as traffic increases and speeds go up it is important that the level crossings have to be eliminated to the maximum possible extent. There are issues that the state governments are not cooperating in providing the land because of the local pressure which needs to be sorted.