AIR spotlight summary on “Safety measures in Indian Railway”.

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AIR spotlight summary on “Safety measures in Indian Railway”.


Introduction

Recently there was a Hirakund Express Train Accident due to derailment of the train including derailment of the locomotive. This rail accident has taken place three months after Kanpur rail accident. But if we see the figures the number of accidents has come down drastically.

Safety of Indian Railways

  • Safety is something where no compromise is ever possible. There should be preference for safety in rail investment. Railways face the twin challenge of safety and sabotage. Railways are vulnerable and when the train runs at higher speed the vulnerability goes up.
  • We are aware that 75,000 kms of rail tracks are old assets and the depreciation fund of the railways was allocated 3,200 crores in the previous budget. The experts say that 25,000 crore each year is needed for the redevelopment of the old assess. In the case of rail fracture, apparently the quality of steel and various aspects are related.
  • There are many passenger trains and Uttar Pradesh is seen as the most vulnerable state where more train accidents are taking place. Here we have 700 passenger trains which mean there is continuous running on the tracks and there is no enough time for inspection.

Government Initiatives

  • The ministry of railways intends to invest 8,50,000 crore in the next 5 years for tracks, bridges, rolling stocks, electrification etc. The government is looking at infrastructure building and is considering railways as the foundation of any infrastructure in the country.
  • The ICF coaches are old coaches made by Indian Coach Factory in Chennai. We have latest technology which we import from Germany which is LHB coaches which we deploy in the premium trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi. The LHB coaches don’t derail or mount on each other. They are much better in the context of accidents and have fewer fatalities. LHB coaches cost 3 times the ICF coaches. The government has taken a decision that henceforth only LHB coaches will be produced.

Recommendations of kakodkar committee

  • The kakodkar committee on railway safety has stressed on external interference, encroachment and sabotage. One of the recommendations is removal of encroachments in the vicinity of railway tracks should be addressed at the political level in the interest of safety.    
  • Public Premises Eviction Act should be amended so that eviction of encroachment is easily possible with the help of local railway police forces.
  • Better coordination between Indian railways and the policing authorities.
  • Railways Act should be suitably amended to impose stringent punishment on persons found guilty of sabotage. There has to be a twofold action where the vigilant railway person who can find out the action of sabotage. Many accidents have been avoided by vigilant people. Secondly vigilance on part of law enforcement agencies has been recommended.

Need of the Hour

  • If country has to progress, its infrastructure part has to progress. The white paper released recently says that only 23% of the network has expanded which includes tracks, bridges, and coaches etc, where as 1300% freight and 1600% passenger has expanded. This shows more people want to travel through railways. Accordingly the railway assets should be replaced before it gets worn-out.
  • The manual monitoring by the railway person has to be supported by digital monitoring, load detector, track circuits, so that if something is missed out humanly it is backed up by technology. Therefore human resource and technology is very important.
  • Whenever the government announces new trains, it has to resolve the requirements and infrastructure needs of the new trains. Even if there is delay in the arrival of trains, there has to be no compromise on the safety aspect.

Conclusion

Japan has been running shinkansen system of trains since 1964 with zero fatalities. Since India is importing bullet train system, the technology and management from Japan let us hope that Indian railways migrate to safe mode of transportation with the government committing more investment in it.