The railway ministry has already initiated measures like inducting modern coaches, creating a safety fund as well as incorporating new technology to not only plug accidents due to derailments, but also to reduce casualties, a senior ministry official said Sunday.
A key step was introdcution of sophisticated Linke Hofman Busch (LHB) coaches replacing conventional ones in a phased manner to reduce the chances of derailment and bringing down the possibility of grievous injury or death in case of accidents such as the one that took place in Khatauli on Saturday evening, he said.
“These (LHB) coaches have anti-climbing features and provision of superior braking and lesser chances of uncoupling of coaches in case of accidents. Besides, the railways have speeded up the use of modern technology such as ultrasonic system to detect track defects,” the official, who did not want to be identified, said. While the production target of LHB coaches has been increased from 1,697 in 2016-17 to 2,384 in 2017-18, it is expected to be 3,025 LHB coaches in 2018-19, he said.
According to the railways, under the rolling stock production programme, there will be only 801 conventional coaches manufactured in 2017-18 and, subsequently, no such coaches will be produced. The train-protection warning system (TPWS) and the train-collision avoidance system (TCAS) are also being used to prevent accidents, the official said.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had launched ‘mission zero accident’ in the 2016-17 Rail Budget for carrying out a special drive to curb accidents. The Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh, a special safety fund, was created in the 2017-18 budget with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of five years for financing critical safety-related works.
While the TPWS has been installed on a 342-km route, the TCAS is being tried on a 350-km route, the official said. “It is crucial for safe running of trains to ensure track security. So, track renewal has been undertaken on a priority basis and adequate funds have been allocated for this purpose,” he said.
The fund allocation for track renewal has been almost doubled from the last five years average of Rs 5,548.6 crore to Rs 9,961 crore in the Budget Estimate of 2017-18. In the 2016-17 fiscal, the railways eliminated 1,503 unmanned level crossings and 484 manned level crossings by constructing road over-bridges and under-bridges. Since unmanned level crossings are responsible for the maximum number of train accidents, the railways intends to eliminate all such crossings on broad gauge sections by 2020.