Taking stock of the problem of erratic brakes in goods trains, Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has directed officials to resolve the issue with utmost priority.
Vaishnaw reviewed the problem with officials on Thursday and Friday, and took detailed presentations on the history and usage of the Bogie Mounted Brake System (BMBS), as well as the problem itself and what is being done to fix it.
The Indian Express had published a report on Wednesday (November 23) regarding the issue with the braking system on goods trains that has seen the system fail on a number of occasions.
Vaishnaw is learnt to have asked officials to validate in-house trials of functioning of the braking system. There have reportedly been more than 50 trials done by various Railway units responsible for the resolution of this system. He is also learnt to have asked officials to fix the issue as soon as possible with priority, sources said. So far, trials have not revealed exact parameters or model conditions under which the said faults with the braking system are occurring, sources said. Faults include inadequate brake power, especially in downward slopes, and non-uniform braking distances.
According to officials, once conditions and parameters are identified, there can be a solution.
The New York design centre of German equipment manufacturers Knorr-Bremse, which supplies the BMBS system, has also been pressed into service. There have been video conferencing with their engineers and designers, officials said. Their representatives have also travelled to India to aid the Railways in the investigation.
The company has been asked to come up with a solution that does not involve dismantling braking system from existing wagons, and also does not involve holding up wagons for days. “Around 1.1 lakh wagons have this brake system. So, taking them out of circulation for days is not an option. In the meantime, we advised reduced speeds” an official said.
On Tuesday, an association of chief loco inspectors, who are responsible for the running of goods trains, submitted result of their deliberation to the Ministry. They highlighted 10 issues with BMBS, and have sought the Railway Board’s immediate cognizance. The issues include “variable braking distance”, apparently even after applying the full brake, trains have been known to move for up to three kilometres. They also described the issue of “loss of braking effect” as a “very dangerous situation”.