How ISRO is helping Indian Railways to curb accidents at Unmanned Level-crossings

NEW DELHI: A satellite-based system will now alert road users at unmanned level crossings about approaching trains and also help in tracking train movement on a real-time basis.

The space technology, adopted with the help of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will warn road users through hooters once a train approaches an unmanned level crossing. The railways is installing ISRO-developed integrated circuit (IC) chips on 10,000 locomotives of trains.

About 500 metres before the level crossings, the hooter will be activated through a signal from the IC chip, warning road users as well as the train drivers near the crossing.

The hooter will become louder as the level crossing nears, and will fall silent after the train has passed.

On a pilot basis, two level crossing gates in Sonepur division on the Delhi-Guwahati Rajdhani route are to be equipped with the ISRO system, to be followed by a few gates on the Delhi-Mumbai route shortly.

Trials would be conducted on these two busy rail corridors and, according to the plan, all level crossings will be equipped with the ISRO system in phases, said a senior Railway Ministry official who did not want to be named.

Besides alerting road users, the satellite-based system will also be used for tracking trains for disseminating information about their movement on a real-time basis. At present, train movement related information is maintained manually, leaving scope for inaccuracies.

The trial for real-time train information system is already being carried out on Mumbai Rajdhani and Guwahati Rajdhani services, said the official.

Safety at unmanned level crossings is a cause of serious concern for railways as these crossings witness maximum mishaps. The public transporter had explored various ways to address the issue before settling for the ISRO system.

A few locos are being equipped with the device and installation of hooters at unmanned level crossings gates on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Guwahati routes is being carried out gradually.

There are about 7,254 unmanned railway crossings in the country which account for around 40 per cent of accidents involving the railways. There are about 18,000 manned level crossings.

While the Railways had eliminated 1,148 unmanned crossings in 2014-15 and 1,253 in 2015-16, it has scaled up its target and now plans to eliminate all such crossings in the next two to three years.

Once all unmanned level crossings are eliminated, the hooter system would be shifted to manned level crossings as per the plan.

The satellite-based system will also help railways in mapping the area and the technology will come in handy at the time of accidents when it can be used to ascertain the exact location of trains and topography.

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Two coaches of Amrapali Express gutted in Railway Yard in Bihar

KATIHAR: A fire broke out in the railway yard here yesterday evening in which two coaches of a stationary train were gutted and as many damaged, a railway official said.

A general and a sleeper coach of the Amrapali Express, which was scheduled to leave late tonight for Amritsar, was destroyed while two other coaches were damaged by the blaze.

No casualties have been reported yet, officials said, adding that the reason behind the fire is yet to be ascertained.

“The fire has been brought under control. Fire brigade personnel and engineers are on the spot. An inquiry will be ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire,” Additional Divisional Railway Manager, Katihar, D L Meena, said.

The fire was noticed at around 6 pm by railway personnel engaged in the yard who informed the RPF and the fire brigade was called subsequently.

By the time flames were extinguished, a general and a sleeper coach were gutted and two other coaches were badly damaged.

Railway officials said the train would run as scheduled with fresh coaches attached to it in place of the affected ones.

Amrapali Express (15707/15708) runs between Katihar and Amritsar. It operates as train number 15707 in Up direction from Katihar Junction of North east Frontier railway to Amritsar of Northern Railway and as train number 15708 in the reverse direction.

Amrapali Express covers the distance of 1799-km between Katihar and Amritsar in 37 hours. As the average speed of the train is below 55 km/hr, its fare does not include a Superfast surcharge.

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Commissioner of Railway Safety completes Track Inspection of stretch near Srirangapatna

SRIRANGAPATNA: The statutory inspection of the pending 1.5 km stretch of railway line near Srirangapatna – taken up as part of track doubling work between Mysuru and Bengaluru – was completed by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) on Monday.

Though originally scheduled to be held on Saturday, the authorities conducted a spot visit besides the track inspection, complete with speed trials and inspection of the two new railway bridges, across the Cauvery, on Monday.

Sources said the CRS inspection covered all technical issues besides observation of the curvature, points and crossings and no major lacunae have been found. All things being satisfactory, the authorisation for operationalising the track may be issued within a week.

The inspection team comprised Manoharan, (CRS) Southern Region; Ashok Gupta, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), South Western Railways; A.K. Garg, Chief Bridge Engineer, SWR, Hubballi; S.K. Jain, Chief Engineer, (Construction); and R.S. Saxena, DRM, Bengaluru Division. Consequent to the CRS approval for operationalising the track, the running time between Naganahalli and Pandavpura is expected to further reduce by about 7 to 10 minutes.

The CRS inspection also draws the track doubling work between Mysuru and Bengaluru to a close. While the Bengaluru-Ramanagaram section had been doubled earlier, the Ramanagaram-Mysuru section received administrative clearance in 2007 and the authorities took more than 11 years to complete the doubling work on the 93 km stretch.

Though doubling work along the entire section was completed in 2014, work on the 1.5 km stretch was pending owing to the 18th Century armoury belonging to the era of Tipu Sultan which was located along the alignment of the new track, causing the work to be stalled.

Following permission from the Archaeological Survey of India, the monument was translocated in one piece with expertise from the U.S. in March this year, paving the way for completion of the second track as well.

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Doubling of Mysuru-Bengaluru Rail Line: CRS to inspect the newly laid Section on Saturday

MYSORE: The long awaited project of doubling the Bengaluru-Mysuru railway line will be complete with the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) on Saturday scheduled to inspect a crucial stretch of the second line, which is likely to be operational within the next two weeks.

South Western Railway (SWR) officials said all the necessary files were sent to CRS, K A Manoharan. The inspection was originally scheduled for October 28 but was postponed due to the arrival of the Railway Board Chairman. “Once sanction is accorded for running of passenger trains on this stretch, the line will be commissioned,” SWR Chief Public Relatons Officer E Vijaya said while interacting with media.

The spokesperson said the electrification of tracks was also nearing completion. “It is expected to be ready by end of November and electric trains will run between the two cities by December. This will avoid engine change currently being done at Bengaluru,” she added.

A senior official in the SWR told that they will start further streamlining the operations between the two cities within the next fortnight. The doubling work was dragged for years due to various reasons, including the need to shift Tipu armoury near Srirangapatna.

The railways finally shifted the armoury in March with assistance of two private companies, one of them from the United states, at a cost of nearly Rs 14 crore. The doubling project started in 2003 with the government sanctioning Rs 14 crore for the first phase of doubling between Bengaluru and Ramanagaram. The project cost has gone up from Rs 480 crore to Rs 875 crore.

The completion of doubling will help thousands of passengers who have long complained about their journeys stretched at the fag end. “The 1.5 km gap in the line meant a train had to wait at Naganahalli and Pandavapura for clearance. The waiting time of 20 minutes will be cut by doubing,” said T P Lokesh of Karnataka Railway Vedike.

About 20 trains run between the two cities every day with weekly specials taking the number up to 23 on weekends and select days.

While the bottleneck at Mysuru is removed, officials said the issue of trains from Mysuru stopping at various places after Kengeri will not be resolved as long as stations such as Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna station are decongested. “We need to build maintenance lines for which we have sought (Binny Mill) land. This will pave way for optimum utilisation of infrastructure.”

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Parliamentary Panel summons top Railway Officials after recent Accidents

New Delhi:  A parliamentary panel has summoned top railway officials over the recent spate of rail derailments and the Elphinstone Road Bridge stampede in Mumbai.

The officials are scheduled to appear before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways headed by Trinamool MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay on November 9.

Representatives of the Railway Ministry (Railway Board) will brief the panel on safety measures in railway operations and maintenance of bridges, a Lok Sabha notice said.

A member of the parliamentary panel said railways is the lifeline of the country and a poor man’s transport. He said safety is of paramount importance and that is why the panel has called the meeting.

The panel is expected to question the officials about the recent incidents of derailment and the Mumbai bridge tragedy in which 23 people lost their lives, the notice said.

A recent circular by the Railway Board had raised concerns over the maintenance of railway bridges, stating that out of 275 such bridges, only 23 had speed restrictions on them.

Speed restriction for trains is needed when the tracks are in need of repair. Without such a restriction, there can be safety issues for trains operating on regular speed.

The board had also ordered a review of all rail bridges in the country that need repair.

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No Shortage of Fund in Railways for Projects related to Passengers Safety: Piyush Goyal

Rail Minister Piyush Goyal said that General Managers have been given full powers to sanction out of turn safety related works without any ceiling.

NEW DELHI: Rail Minister Piyush Goyal said on Wednesday that there is no shortage of fund in railways for projects related to passengers’ safety and security.

The rail minister said that PM Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has given railways full liberty to use funds on safety. He said that General Managers have been given full powers to sanction out of turn safety related works without any ceiling.

Addressing a press conference, the rail minister said that procedures have been substantially simplified for procurement of material in the Railways.

Piyush Goyal told the media that the government is doing transformational changes in the Railways and for faster implementation, those changes will have a defined time span.He said that in every rail division now there would be two ADRMs instead of one to ensure a smooth operation.

The railway will categorise its station on the basis of passenger footfall and will accordingly increase the facilities at these stations. For the benefit of specially-abled and senior citizens, the railway has identified 3000 spots where escalators would be built.

The railway has decided to increase the number of CCTVs across trains and stations.

He especially took the name of Mumbai rail network, one of the biggest suburban rail networks in the country for this purpose.

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Railways to spend about Rs.6,000 crore to fix Railway Tracks

NEW DELHI: To target the occurrences of railway derailment, the Indian Railways is reportedly planning to spend Rs 1,000 crore every month for the next six months in order to locate and replace old tracks with new ones.

Until now, only about 2 per cent of railway tracks or 2,000 km were replaced in the country each year. But in light of recent fatal accidents, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has reportedly ordered for the renewal of 3,600 km of tracks – an increase of 80 per cent.

According to reports, general managers have already been asked to award maintenance blocks, and tracks are being routed to the destinations. Even track ballasts and clips will be replaced to allow no scope of mishaps. The minister has also cleared the proposal calling for international bids for steel in the coming month.

The Railway Board is to also meet on a weekly basis to review safety measures and parameters for all the zones. A new timetable will also be formulated in order to ensure commuters can travel without any delays and work can also be carried out simultaneously.

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Railways may ask Finance Ministry to fund its share of Rail Safety Fund

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the setting up a special safety fund with a corpus of more than Rs.1 lakh crore over a period of five years in the 2017-18 Budget.

NEW DELHIThe Ministry of Railways may ask the Finance Ministry to fund its share of the railway safety fund this year as the public utility is staring at an earnings shortfall of at least Rs.10,000 crore in 2017-18, sources said.

With earnings deficit, the Ministry of Railways may find it difficult to contribute its share towards the newly- constituted Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) – a dedicated fund for critical safety-related works, a Ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

The Indian Railways’ income stood at ₹80,519 crore till September compared with Rs.76,405 crore till September last year. However, the actual income was 8.45% lower than the targeted earnings till September this year. The railways had set a target of earning Rs.1.88 lakh crore in 2017-18, against Rs.1.65 lakh crore in 2016-17.

“We are looking at an earnings deficit of at least Rs.10,000 crore by the end of this financial year. We may demand the Finance Ministry to fund the entire amount towards RRSK for current financial year in the pre-budget meeting next month,” the Ministry official said.

The Finance Ministry is scheduled to meet officials of the Ministry of Railways on November 10 for pre-budget discussions to finalise the revised estimates for 2017-18 and budget estimates for 2018-19.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the setting up a special safety fund with a corpus of more than Rs.1 lakh crore over a period of five years in the 2017-18 Budget. According to the plan, while the Finance Ministry would contribute Rs.15,000 crore annually towards the fund, the Ministry of Railways would fund the balance Rs.5,000 crore every year.

In the first six months of the current financial year, the railways utilised a quarter of the safety fund as it had spent Rs.5,031 crore from the RRSK. Although the railways’ passenger and goods earnings increased 4.5% and 8.4% respectively till September this year compared with last year, its sundry earnings declined sharply by 35.7% in this period.

Income from non-fare revenues, including land lease, advertising, PSU dividends and catering department, form part of the sundry earnings.

Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal said in an interview to The Hindu last month that the utility was willing to spend unlimited funds on safety, which would be a top priority for him. “In my working, there is no budget for safety. Whatever [fund] is required, we will spend,” he said.

The Finance Ministry has advised the Ministry of Railways to prioritise deploying RRSK funds on areas that reduce chances of human error and ensure training of safety staff.

Indian Railways to fast track work to ensure Commuter Safety

MUMBAI: The Railways today said it has identified the projects that are to be executed on a fast track mode to prevent recurrence of Elphinstone Road railway station incident and ensure safety of commuters.

Twenty-three people were killed and 35 others injured in a stampede that broke out on a crowded pedestrian bridge at the Elphinstone Road station on September 29.

“As per the reports of the multidisciplinary team which conducted an audit of all the suburban train stations in and around Mumbai, we have identified the areas where we need to work, besides our teams have also prioritise the works that will be executed on fast forward mode,” S K Jain, Divisional Manager of Mumbai Division of Central Railway said.

Jain said executing the projects of 14 foot overbridges (FoBs), which include widening of two FoBs, cleaning garbage along side the railway tracks and desilting the drainages, making stations and its surroundings till 150 m hawkers free, controlling trespassing, demarcation of the railway premises are among the priority list which we are working on fast-forward mode.

Earlier in the day, senior officials of both the Central and Western Railway held a first follow-up meeting with Mumbai municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, police commissioner Dattatrey Padsalgikar, wherein it was discussed to have better inter-departmental coordination among the different agencies to execute the projects and make the stations and its surrounding areas hawkers free.

“State government’s resolution to evict the hawkers within the 150 m of railway premises was discussed seriously and the civic body chief was prompt to nominate ward officer to do this task,” Jain said, adding, Central Railway has started demarcating the railway areas.

He said that Central Railway has forwarded a proposal to Railway Board to erect 14 FoBs at different stations and have sought boards out of turn approval to expedite the projects.

Following Railway Minister’s order after the stampede, Central Railway had formed eight teams while Western Railway had set up five multidisciplinary teams, besides roping in representatives of five municipal corporations, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Mumbai Police.

Strictly Follow Monsoon Precautions and Ensure Safety: GM/SCR

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway conducted a Safety Review Meeting today i.e., 16th October, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments and Divisional Railway Managers (DRM) of all six Divisions i.e. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded through video conference.

The General Manager complimented officials of Guntakal Division for restoring the breaches in Kalluru- Pamidi & Kalluru – Khadarpet section on war foot with minimal effect on running of trains. In this context, he advised the concerned officials to strengthen tracks adjacent to the river banks. He further instructed the DRMs of all divisions to identify the flood affected spots especially in the coastal sections and be well prepared to tackle any situation. He also advised that regular counseling to the employees in safety categories will result in reduction of human failures. He reviewed the ongoing works with regard to elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings and instructed the officials to speed up the work and assured of full support in all aspects. He also advised the engineering officials to be more cautious near Railway Bridges and regularly watch the water levels in coordination with State Government officials.

Speaking on the precautions to be observed during the Diwali season, he advised all the concerned officials to be alert and take necessary action to avoid stampede situations and improve the systems to manage the rush of passengers. He further instructed to ensure that carrying of Inflammable articles like Crackers etc to be prevented. He also instructed to conduct regular inspections to ensure quality drinking water in the railway stations and colonies in the ensuing rainy season.

K.Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer; N.Madhusudana Rao, Principal Chief Operations Manager; M.G.Sekharam, Chief Commercial Manager; Arjun Mundiya, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer; A.A. Phadke, Principal Chief Electrical Engineer; V.M. Srivastava, Principal Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer; Smt. Padmini RadhaKrishnan, Principal Financial Adviser; D.K. Singh, Chief Safety Officer; N.V.Ramana Reddy, Principal Chief Personnel Officer and K.H.K. Dora, Principal Chief Medical Director were amongst the officials present.

Railways conduct Automated Inspections & Frequent Traffic Blocks to improve the Safety of Rail Tracks

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is planning a series of steps to improve the safety of rail tracks, including automated inspections and frequent traffic blocks for maintenance. In a meeting chaired by the Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, with all General Managers of the Zonal Railways through video conferencing on September 16, Mr. Lohani suggested various measures to give the highest priority to the Railways’ safety. He also noted that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is concerned by the speed of response during accidents, a senior Railway Ministry official said. Mr. Lohani directed all the Railway zones to procure “self-propelled cars” for track inspection, citing its usefulness in the Delhi division.

A Railway Board member highlighted that a large number of rail fractures are occurring on rails that have not served even 25% of their lifespan. “This usually happens due to improper handling or laying of rail tracks, and is a major sign of worry. We have asked the Zonal Railways to adopt technology while inspecting rail tracks. Quality of welding and frequent maintenance blocks are crucial to improve rail welds,” a senior official said.

Railways ignores speed restriction on 252 old bridges in bad shape, violates its own norms

Railways violated its own norms on FOBs in case of stampede at Elphinstone Road Station. Over 100 footover bridges on Central Railway, Western Railway in ‘fatal zone’

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: In a major safety lapse, Railway has found that out of 275 railway bridges across the country that need rebuilding for they are very old, speed restrictions for trains to pass through has been put only on 23 bridges. What poses a big threat to safe train operations is that trains continue to pass with usual speed on other 252 bridges that are in bad shape.

The Railway Board had sought details of bridges and it was observed that large number of bridges needing rehabilitation existed on some zonal railways since long. The Central Railways has 61 bridges, East Central Railways 63, South Central Railways 41 and Western Railways 42 bridges pending rebuilding.

“It is also observed that in most of the cases, no speed restriction has been imposed and special inspection schedule has also not been prescribed by chief bridge engineers. On the other hand, there are many bridges where speed restrictions have been imposed on condition basis but they are not categorized under ORN-1 or 2 categories,” said the order issued by A K Singhal, Executive Director Civil Engineering.

The railway bridges are divided in three categories – overall rating number 1, 2, 3. Bridges with overall rating number (ORN-1) rating require immediate rebuilding/rehabilitation, ORN-2 ratings are required to be rebuilt on the programmed basis while ORN-3 bridges require special repairs.

Railway Board has now pulled up zonal railways for failing to do a time bound planning for completing the rehabilitation work.

“It seems that proper time bound planning has not been done by railways for rehabilitation of these bridges which creates a doubt whether correct condition rating appropriate to the actual condition of the bridge has been assigned or not. It is also felt that there has been lack of due diligence at Division/headquarter level while revising/confirming the rating,” said Singhal in the order issued last month.

Railway Board has said that the chief bridge engineers (CBEs) should specifically review the position in respect of all bridges assigned in their respective railways and firm up the action plan for their rehabilitation on priority.

A CAG report in 2015 had found that delays in sanctioning of bridgeworks and completion of sanctioned bridgeworks resulted in operation of train services with speed restriction.

The Railways violated its own guidelines on foot-overbridges (FOBs) at stations which it had formulated in 2012-13 in the case of the one at Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai where a stampede occurred last month killing 22 people and leaving 33 injured. The breadth of the bridge was half what it should have been.

According to the standards that were set in 2012-13, the FOBs should have a breadth of 10 metres. But the breadth of the FOB at Elphinstone Road station is 4.5 metres. The schedule of dimensions which is issued by the Railway Board from time to time gives the standards that are to be followed for construction of FOBs and other infrastructure. “This schedule gives the ideal size of the infrastructure that has to be constructed at the railway stations and this is improved over time,” said a senior Railway official.

According to the official, FOB is a passenger amenity and it is still not considered a safety issue. Therefore the safety circular which is issued to all the chief safety officers will not include FOBs. “Safety circular is meant for operations of trains,” said the official.

FOBs  inside railway stations as well as at the entry and exit points are a responsibility of the Railways. In the past eight years, the Railways have sanctioned 36 FOBs for the Mumbai suburban railway. Out of these 22 have been constructed.

Railway officials said there is regular inspection of all the infrastructure at the general manager and divisional railway manager level. But the issue of the narrow FOB at Elphinstone Road station and vulnerability of people was apparently never raised. A survey of footfall at the station, an indicator of over-strained infrastructure, was also never carried out.

Now a new FOB has been sanctioned at the Elphinstone Road station by the GM Western Railways at a cost of Rs 10 crore. It is to be constructed parallel to the old FOB and will meet the standards that have been set by the Railways in 2012-2013. “The old FOB will not be destroyed as it will be a tedious task. Instead a new FOB will be constructed,” said the Railway official.

Illegal hawkers who encroach on the FOBs in the Mumbai suburban railway network have been blamed for the stampede. A campaign has been started to drive out the illegal hawkers which is being conducted by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP).

It further said that instances of continued operation of speed restriction were noticed on 87 bridges of 13 zones ranging between four to 591 months. Audit assessed an extra expenditure of Rs 103.40 crore on account of operational cost due to continuation of speed restrictions.

“The above demonstrates the casual approach on part of Railways in sanctioning/executing and monitoring of bridgeworks. This resulted in delay in execution of bridgeworks that were identified for rehabilitation leaving the possibility of compromising passenger safety during operation of train services on these bridges. Railways need to ensure an effective monitoring system to be in place for timely execution and completion of bridgeworks,” the CAG report has added.

More than 100 footover bridges (FOBs) along Mumbai’s busiest suburban railway lines — Central and Western — fall in the top three fatal zones which require urgent attention, an internal Railways survey shows.

The list of dangerous bridges collated by the Railways shows that there are 61 bridges on the Central Railways (CR) and 42 bridges on the Western Railways that require urgent repair, DNA reported.

The East Central Railway zone with 63 bridges that need repairs are the most fatal zones. The report said that one of the bridges in the Lucknow Division, under the Northern Railway, is in a precarious condition and needs to be immediately rebuilt.

Western Railway officials did not confirm if the Elphinstone Road FOB was a part of the list. On September 29, 23 passengers were killed and 36 were injured in a deadly rush-hour stampede that occurred on a narrow foot overbridge connecting the Elphinstone Road railway station to Parel station.

The report stated that the Railway Board had issued a letter to 16 zones on Indian Railways where they had identified 275 railway bridges that need to be built immediately on September 21, a week before the stampede.

In 2017-18, the railways plan to come together to rehabilitate 114 bridges, of which CR will rebuild 20 bridges and WR will rebuild 13 bridges.

”It seems that proper time-bound planning has not been done by the railways for rehabilitation of these bridges. This creates a doubt whether the correct rating, appropriate to the actual condition, of the bridge, has been assigned or not,” states the letter.

Earlier, the Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had called for innovation in making the railways safer while stressing that enough money is available for the purpose.

“The railway minister has asked the zones not to worry about funds as far as work on safety is concerned. And so work on rehabilitating and rebuilding these railway bridges will be expedited,” AK Saxena, Director General (PR), Railway Board said.

The letter also stated that the field officers in charge of maintaining and studying the health of railway bridges need to be educated by the Chief Bridge Engineers so that the officer can determine the correct condition of bridges and take necessary remedial measures for safe movement of trains.

Railways to spend Rs.15000 Crore on Safety next year

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways will spend Rs 15,000 crore over the next 12 months to make travelling safer for passengers. The money will be spent on improving safety features on trains, tracks and stations on a “war footing”, a top Railway Ministry official said.

This will include installing elevators and constructing more foot-overbridges (FOBs) at all high density stations to help clear passenger traffic during rush hours. “Rail Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani has already instructed general managers to go for an immediate audit and sanction works at the earliest,” the official said.

The announcement follows Friday’s stampede at the Elphinstone-Parel foot-over-bridge in Mumbai that killed at least 23 people. The Rail Board has empowered all general managers to spend on safety works on their own without waiting for any budgetary allocation or clearance. Besides, station directors have been empowered to take quick decisions in case there is a pile up of passengers at stations.

The Mumbai suburban network, which includes both the central and western railways, will get 10 new FOBs along with elevators to avoid a repeat of any such incident. The rail board has also decided to equip all major stations with CCTV cameras for better management of crowds during the peak hours.

All stations in an around Delhi will also be equipped with the same facilities at the earliest. Almost 2,000 CCTVs will be installed at 400 major stations. Rail minister Piyush Goyal has ordered that all this work should be completed on the Mumbai suburban network and at all major stations well within 15 months.

“Not only the Mumbai suburban network but stations around Delhi where lakhs of daily commuters use railways to reach the capital for work will also get additional FOBs and elevators,” the official said.

The government has approved a Rs 1 lakh crore dedicated Rail Safety Fund, which will be used for overhauling rail tracks, constructing foot-over-bridges, eliminating unmanned level crossings, upgrading network signalling and for installing CCTV cameras. The fund will be spent over five years.

Who are the Railway Gate Mitras?

Over 10000 men and women are employed as gate mitras by the Ministry of Railways at unmanned level crossings to ensure the safety of people while crossing railway tracks. To get a better understanding of what it exactly is, one must not forget the iron poles which are used to allow any vehicle or person to cross railway tracks, when a train is approaching. Now the job of gate mitras are to exactly do the same job, where there are no iron poles to obstruct the vehicles.

According to Indian Railways, “‘Gate Mitra’ is an initiative of the Ministry of Railways to enhance safety and prevent accidents at unmanned level crossing gates. The person engaged as “Gate Mitra” would alert road-users about approaching trains at unmanned level crossings. They are primarily deployed to counsel the road users to be vigilant while crossing the unmanned level crossing gates.”

However, the gate mitras, complain of exploitation and meagre payment. Speaking to RailNews, several gate mitras said that how they are made to work for 12 hours every day, witout any off throughout the year, for a meagre salary of 3000 to 4000 rupees per month. They also said that there is no arrangement for shelter, first aid, bathroom, and if somebody is not well, taking a day off would amount to salary cut even losing the job. Neeraj Kumar, President of Bhartiya Rail Gate Mitra Association Karmikshan said that 35% road accidents used to happen at unmanned level crossings bt after the deployment of gate mitras, the frequency of such accidents have rapidly decreased, however, even after being at the spot for over 12 hours, the gate mitras don’t earn enough to make ends meet. Apart from the lack of basic facilities, women who are deployed at such spots have no access to toilets mostly, they have to go in the open to relieve themselves, which also puts their safety at stake. Some women employees stay far away from these level crossings, and face severe problems during menstruation.

The gate mitras also said that due to absence of shelters, they have to also battle the harsh climate – heavy rains, blazing heat. If they do take an off, or raise a question, their contractors threaten to strip the of the job. Sarita Verma and Rajwati, 25 years of age, and had been working as gate mitras for 3 years, told RailNews about the problems face by women in the job. They revealed how women are harassed by unknown people and sometimes sexually explicit slurs are thrown at them. However they women said that they have now grown used to it, and it does not deter the from doing their job any longer.

RailNews also spoke to one such Contractor under whom 14 gate mitras are employed, and what he revealed gave an interesting twist to the story. At first the contractor revealed that the time stipulated for the work has been specified by the Railways and the contractor or the external agency has no role to play, and hence the complaints of employees regarding working hours and offs cannot be taken into consideration.

However, on further questioning what was revealed is the fact that the Railways have only specified the time for which gate mitras are required to be at the unmanned level crossing. Point to be noted is the fact that the number of hours to be worked by each and every employee is not specified by the railways and depends on the contractor. So it is obvious that to make more profit, these contractors employ less number of people and make the work under extreme pressure to earn more. For example if employing 10 gate mitras would allow every employee one off a week, the contractors would hire only 7 (example) make the work without offs, and earn their profit.

The above contractor speaking to us also mentioned about a rest giver ho is deployed if n employee needs rest, however, this claim has been refuted by the employees.

The question is, it is so easy to defy labour laws and exploit the poor? RailNews will keep a tab of the story and the space would be updated with each and every development..

Elphinstone Tragedy facilitates Audit of Pune Railway Station FOBs

PUNE: The September 29 Elphinstone stampede in Mumbai, where 22 people lost their lives, has primed the Pune railway division to be on their watchful best of the foot overbridges (FOBs) at their stations. In the last two days, a team of senior officials has surveyed all the three existing FOBs at the Pune railway station and is gearing up for a safety audit of all the other FOBs in the entire Pune railway division.

“The Elphinstone railway station incident was tragic. It has alerted officials concerned across the country regarding the safety measures over the FOBs at the railway stations. From the last two days, a team lead by Additional Divisional Railway Manager (ADRM) surveyed three FOBs at the Pune railway station during different times in the day and night as the footfalls varies. We gauged properness of the infrastructure, security systems and many other things,” said Pune Divisional Railway Manager B.K. Dadabhoy.

He added that they are going to handle the safety audit of all the FOBs across the 74 stations under the Pune railway division, as demanded by Pune MP Anil Shirole.

“On the background of the unfortunate incident, security checks at the Pune railway station are the need of the hour. I have written a letter demanding this safety audit to the Central Railway general manager, to ensure safety and security of the passengers travelling from the Pune railway station,” Shirole said.

The inspections have truly become the need of the hour after the incident, especially in a city which handles 180 train operations with a daily footfall over two lakh. Currently, the railways have completed the work of a new FOB towards Solapur end which connects platform nos. 1, 2 and 3 and is now opened for public. While the work on two other old FOBs has been started which are both towards the Mumbai end of the station and only one comes out over the Raja Bahadur Road. “We have deployed Railway Protection Force (RPF) to continuously monitor this rush and maintain its flow to avoid accidents,” Dadabhoy said.

The new FOB will be constructed for Rs 13 crore, out of which Rs 4 crore has been spent on the initial work, which is expected to gain momentum as the remaining amount rolls in. The bridge will be materialised within this year.

These new bridges also might bring some respite to the passengers who have had horrible experiences in the rush. The regular ones, who have witnessed crowding during certain hours, have various stories to tell. For instance, Kushal Das, who often travel to Kolkata from Pune railway stations often has to face heavy rush when he boards the Azad Hind Express. “At this point of time, the FOBs at the Pune railway station are flooded with public and there is hardly any way to walk properly. Few months ago, I had helped a lady to pick up her luggage, when she fell down while climbing the FOB at the main entrance gate,” recounted Das.

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Safety, not bullet train, should be first priority of Railways, says EAS Sarma

EAS Sarma, former secretary of the Government of India, has demanded the Railways and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to give priority to safety in Railways. Pointing out to specific reference from a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Mr Sarma cautions the Railway Minister to leave everything else and concentrate on safety instead of waiting for another accident to occur.

Mr Sarma has been sending warning to Railway Ministers about lackadaisical attitude of railways towards safety. In his recent letter, he says, “I thought that Railways, after the successive accidents, would drop the idea of taking up bullet trains and, instead, focus on the safety of tracks, modernisation of unmanned level crossings etc. The stampede on the narrow footbridge at the Elphinstone station in Mumbai has once again raised public anger against the warped priorities of the Railways.”

“What surprised me is Report No13/2016 of CAG on Railways. I reproduce a portion of Para 6.8.8 of that report, that says, ‘Foot over Bridge (FOB) is a critical element of crowd management and is prone to stampede. It was observed that FOBs were not strong enough to sustain crowd pressure at 25 stations of seven Zonal Railways’,” Mr Sarma says.

According to the former Secretary, what the CAG had said so clearly ought to have woken up Rail Ministry in time to save the innocent lives of the people. He says, “Who is responsible for the inaction that has cost people’s lives? Is it not ironic that the Prime Minister should spend so much effort on buying bullet trains from Japan instead of thinking of investing on safety improvements first? Is not the government misguided by warped priorities?”

“It is criminal on the part of the Railways to act indifferently towards modernising the 14,000 unmanned level crossings, strengthening the railways tracks, installing modern advance alert systems, crowd management systems and safety of women travelling by train,” Mr Sarma added.

In his earlier letter on 28 December 2016, Mr Sarma had said, “To the ordinary citizen not affiliated to any political party, the blame goes to everyone. Something is wrong with the safety systems in place in the Railways and the priority given to safety in the Railway budget. What is the use of merging the Railway budget with the general Budget, when the priority is for Wi-Fi and bullet trains, and not for the safety of passengers?”

“Once again, as a responsible Minister in charge of the Railways, you have the obligation to bring in technology into safety systems. Instead of holding the small fry responsible for these accidents, you will do well to hold those in the higher echelons answerable. Otherwise, you will only encourage the business-as-usual approach that will continue to consume human lives and cause human trauma,” the former Secretary wrote to the then Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu.

“The money that you spend in the budget on Railways is the money given to you by the tax-payer of this country to spend prudently, not fritter away on foreign companies to introduce ‘bullet trains’ and so on. May I request you to recall what all I have been saying on the need to launch a mission of ‘Zero Tolerance for Accidents’, make the senior officers of the Railways responsible for lapses and assure the nation of an accident-free railway system in a time bound manner?” Mr Sarma asked.

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Indian Railways to rope in Japanese experts to avoid accidents, derailments

NEW DELHI: Amid rising incidents of derailments and accidents, the Indian Railways has decided to rope in Japanese experts to grapple with the situation.

A high-level team of experts from Japan comprising of representatives of Japan’s ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism (MLIT), JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and railway operators visited India this week and discussed in detail the scope of cooperation between the two countries in the matter of Railway safety.

The Japanese team visited Indian Railway’s coach, wagon and locomotive maintenance facilities and also observed rail welding and track maintenance practices bring followed at present, a senior Railway official said on Wednesday.

MLIT had in response to the request from Indian Railways deputed a team of Japanese Railway experts to India to assess incidents of rail breakage and suggest measures to improve safety in train operations. The official said that the first meeting was held in January with Japanese Experts.

After this, a separate memorandum of cooperation (MoC) on Railway safety was signed on February between Ministry of Railways, Government of India and MLIT, Japan to cover area adequately.

The memorandum envisages cooperation in Rail Safety on area such as maintenance of Track (welding, rail inspection, track circuit etc.) and rolling stock maintenance.

Capacity development has been taken as a technical cooperation project under the MoC to develop Indian Railways’ capacity in respect of the above identified areas.

These areas have been incorporated in the terms of reference of the cooperation.

Japanese Railways is one of the oldest Rail system in the world. Japan is the pioneer in the High Speed Rail ‘Shinkansen’. Japanese Railways has an impeccable record with Safety. Ministry of Railways (GoI) had requested Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) for technical cooperation in Rail Safety.

The cooperation will facilitate exchange of information and visit of experts from both sides. A workshop is proposed to be organised in the first week of Nov’2017 in association with Japanese experts.

Pune Railway Division to conduct Track Surveillance trials with 2 Drones to keep eye on tracks, stations

Railways will watch out for derailments, accidents, illegal track crossing, passengers’ stunts, track maintenance, encroachments and more.

PUNE: As safety while using the Indian Railways becomes a matter of raging debate, it appears that the local division of this transport authority has decided to a rather futuristic remedial measure.

Now, two new drone cameras will be deployed soon to keep a hawk’s eye watch on railway tracks and stations in Pune railway division — also incidentally making it the first division in the country to use such a vigilance system.

Recent incidents of derailment and other railway accidents have sparked this decision, and the first trial runs for these cameras will take place next week.

Speaking to media about the initiative, Pune Divisional Railway Manager B K Dadabhoy said, “Train operations, maintenance of tracks, vigilance against untoward incidents and various other initiatives are being carried out round the clock by the railways. When accidents occur on the tracks, our Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel and officials do take some time to reach the spot and verify matters. Often, there are cases of passengers protesting on the tracks, rail rokos and more — all in all, human vigilance has its limitations. So, we decided that drone cameras will aid us immeasurably when it comes to keeping an eye on railway tracks, Pune railway station and other areas under the division.”

Dadabhoy added, “Initially, we will buy just two drones at an approximate budget of Rs 40 lakh. They will be highquality machines to record videos and take pictures at a certain distance above ground level. It will help us get realtime videos and photos if incidents like derailment, accidents, illegal track crossing, passengers’ stunts (especially on Pune–Lonavala local train routes), track maintenance work, law and order situations and encroachments on railway property take place. Next week, we will conduct trial runs for the drone cameras, keeping one at Pune railway station and the other at Miraj railway station to cover nearby areas.”

In October 2016, the Maharashtra Express train derailed at Pune railway station during its night trip; several incidents of youths carrying out stunts have also been observed on Pune- Lonavala locals. While the RPF takes continual action against miscreants and trespassers, they can cover only a limited area.

Meanwhile, commuters have welcomed the drone project. Prashant Sharma, a daily passenger to and from Lonavala, shared, “In the last 20 years, I have witnessed a number of accidents on this route, mostly when passengers are hit by stones thrown from the outside. There have also been issues of trains getting stuck along the route due to technical or other occasions — if this happens at a lonely spot now, the drones will help capture the exact location and help officials reach hapless passengers in case of any emergency.”

Initially, we will buy just two drones for around Rs 40 lakh. Next week, we will conduct trial runs, keeping one at Pune railway station and the other at Miraj railway station to cover nearby areas.

College Students from Bangalore offer IoT-based solution for unmanned Railway crossings

The team from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, aims to reduce railway accidents through IOT

BENGALURU: At a time when train accidents are becoming frequent, six students from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, have suggested a cost-effective way to the Indian Railways to eliminate accidents at unmanned level crossings.

The project – an Internet of Things-based (IoT) multi-tier system – is currently under the railway ministry’s consideration. The system is based on three types of sensors and was presented at the Smart India Hackathon 2017, organized by the central government in April.

“We have given an alternative idea of eliminating unmanned railway crossings across India. It’s an automated IoT-based multi-tier system based on sensors. This will buttress the security system of the railways and remove human errors,” explained Ishaan Abhinav, a third-year student and member of team Gamma, which came up with the model.

The model operates on three sensors – radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensor, pressure sensor and optical sensor – to be placed at different points from the crossing. The pressure and optical sensors are triggered by the weight and appearance of trains, respectively.

As soon as the train passes through the RFID sensor located 2.7km from the crossing, an alarm and light system will be activated to signal road users to stop. As the train approaches the pressure sensor – to be placed at 1.75km from the crossing – it’s time for the gates to close. By the time the train reaches the optical sensor, placed 1.5km from the crossing, the gates will shut automatically.

“The project doesn’t end here. It is often seen that when barricades come down, many walker try to cross the track by slipping underneath. To prevent this, we have added barbed wires to the barricades,” said Malvika Vinay, another team member and a third-year engineering student.

The project was readied in two-and-a-half weeks by the team whose members include Madhusoodhanan K M, Adhitya Niranjan, Misha P and Rainy Jain. The students from computer science and mechanical engineering streams were mentored by Sudhir Routray, Sharmila K P and Rahul Nyamangoudar.

“We went till the final round of the hackathon. The PM addressed us and spoke about the problems faced by the Railways,” said Madhusoodanan.

Said professor Sharmila, head of the department for telecommunication: “It’s a low-budget solution for railways as these sensors don’t require much power or battery to run till about four to five years. We are now making changes in the project as suggested by the Ministry of Railways.”

Indian Railways to eliminate unmanned level crossings within a year

In a bid to reduce the accidents, the Railway Ministry on Sunday has decided to take measures to eliminate all unmanned level crossings in the country within a year.

A decision was taken in this regard after Union Minister of Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal reviewed the performance of Southern Railway and ICF at a meeting held here.

During the meeting, the Minister also asked his department authorities to ensure that Indian Railways provide the best service with speed and safety.

Southern railway sources here said that the earlier target was to eliminate unmanned level crossings in three years, but by using the transformative mantra of “Speed, Skill and Scale”, this target has to be completed within one year now.

The Railway Minister said steps were taken to conserve electricity through large scale implementation of LED lighting facilities at railway stations, railway premises including railway quarters under UJALA programme of the union government.

Similarly, he said railway officials should take measures in water conservation, plastic disposal as a part of Green India mission of government.

Balance Safety and Punctuality in Train Operations: GM/SCR said

SECUNDERABAD: South Central Railway General Manager Vinod Kumar Yadav advised the officials to balance safety and punctuality in train operations to get passenger satisfaction.

He conducted a detailed review meeting on Safety and Punctuality today at Rail Nilayam in Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. The Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) of all six Divisions i.e., Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded participated through video conference.

The General Manager said that railways can render better services when a perfect balance of safety and punctuality is attained. Speaking on the safety he said that, it is always better to be prepared for any unexpected situations especially in monsoon season. He advised the officials to conduct all safety inspections in a meaningful manner and all officers should take care of asset maintenance. Asset maintenance is crucial for hassle free train operations, he added.

Vinod Kumar Yadav stressed on utmost priority towards maintaining the highest level of safety in train movement, specifically in relation to maintenance of track. He also cautioned that extra attention be given to vulnerable locations and unsafe procedures in train operations. He informed that the Minister of Railways is very particular about the steps being taken by the Zones on maintenance of cleanliness in trains and stations. He called upon the officials to show the ability and prove that Zone achieves best in terms of passenger satisfaction.

Additional General Manager John Thomas and other senior officials were also present during the meeting.

Collision Avoidance System Market Foreseen to Grow exponentially over 2016–2026

Increasing number of severe accidents had elevated the need of a system to avoid collisions. The collision avoidance system is helpful to avoid imminent collisions amongst objects such as automobiles, aircrafts, railways, marine and others. The increasing application of collision avoidance system in construction and mining industries are boosting the global collision avoidance system market.  Based upon its applications there are various collision avoidance system such as airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS), traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), ground proximity warning system (GPWS), obstacle collision avoidance system.

Collision avoidance system works on the principle of avoiding the collision by warning the operator of the threat or by taking an autonomous avoidance movement. The automobile giants such as Fusion, General Motors and Ford Explorer are having a pre-collision system installed in their cars. These pre-collision system uses radar to detect the approaching obstacles and alerts the drivers accordingly, or even the system will brake the vehicle. Currently the global collision avoidance system market is in billions and is anticipated to witness a modest CAGR growth in the forecasted period.

Portable Collision Avoidance System (PCAS),Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS),FLARM, Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS).,Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS),Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS),On the basis of Product Type, the collision avoidance system market can be segmented as follows:

Collision Avoidance System Market: Segmentation. Drivers and Restraints, Region Wise Outlook, Key Players:

The expensive nature of collision avoidance system restricts its usage in the middle level and lower level segment vehicles. In some cases the collision avoidance system only warns the drivers and does not perform any autonomous avoidance movement, and ignorance of drivers might lead to the collision. The above factors can slowdown the global collision avoidance system market.

Automotive industry is having the largest share in the global collision avoidance market and due to the increasing concern of travellers and vehicle safety the global collision avoidance system market is anticipated to boost in the forecasted period. Further, stringent government regulations, and lower insurance premium of vehicles with collision avoidance system is driving the global collision avoidance system market. Increased awareness amongst governments of different regions is leading to the installation of collision avoidance system in railways, aircrafts and submarines, resulting in the growth of global collision avoidance system market.

Increasing number of severe accidents had elevated the need of a system to avoid collisions. The collision avoidance system is helpful to avoid imminent collisions amongst objects such as automobiles, aircrafts, railways, marine and others. The increasing application of collision avoidance system in construction and mining industries are boosting the global collision avoidance system market.  Based upon its applications there are various collision avoidance system such as airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS), traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), ground proximity warning system (GPWS), obstacle collision avoidance system. Collision avoidance system works on the principle of avoiding the collision by warning the operator of the threat or by taking an autonomous avoidance movement. The automobile giants such as Fusion, General Motors and Ford Explorer are having a pre-collision system installed in their cars. These pre-collision system uses radar to detect the approaching obstacles and alerts the drivers accordingly, or even the system will brake the vehicle. Currently the global collision avoidance system market is in billions and is anticipated to witness a modest CAGR growth in the forecasted period.

Synthetic Vision, Obstacle Collision Avoidance System. On the basis of Functionality, the collision avoidance system market can be segmented as follows: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC),Blind Spot Detection (BSD),Forward Collision Warning (FCW),Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS).On the basis of Applications, the collision avoidance system market can be segmented as follows: Automotive, Marine, Aerospace, Railways, Others (Construction and Mining).

The global collision avoidance system market can be divided into seven regions, namely North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Japan and Middle East and Africa .Europe is the leader in terms of market share in global collision avoidance system market owing to the flourishing automotive sector in this region. Also in this region there are stringent government regulations for installing some basic systems such as tire pressure monitoring system in automotive and ACAS system in aircrafts for seating capacity above a specific number. North America is another significant contributor in global collision avoidance system market due to its increasing construction, railways and mining sectors.

Asia Pacific is anticipated to be a potential market in the global collision avoidance system market in near future. India and China are the countries that would witness a decent growth in the construction and mining, automotive sectors. Latin America and Japan are at a nascent stage in the global collision avoidance system market. Middle East and Africa are anticipated to have a slowdown collision avoidance system market in the forecasted period.

Some of the key players in global collision avoidance system market are as follows: Delphi Automotive LLP,Robert Bosch GmbH, DENSO CORPORATION, Autoliv Inc, Becker Mining Systems AG, Wabtec Corporation, Siemens AG, Rockwell Collins, ALSTOM, GENERAL ELECTRIC,Honeywell International Inc, Saab AB.

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Stop Train Mishap, get out-of-turn Promotion: Piyush Goyal to Railway Staff

Terming the recent train accidents as ‘unfortunate’, Goyal called upon the railway staff to work diligently

BANGALORE: In the wake of a series of recent train accidents in the country, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has suggested out-of-turn promotions for those railway employees who take timely action to avert mishaps.

Speaking at a review meeting with senior officials of the South Western Railway, he asserted that such schemes will boost the morale of the staff.

Terming the recent train accidents as “unfortunate”, Goyal called upon the railway staff to work diligently for ensuring complete safety in running trains, a release by the South Western Railway said.

“The minister suggested various schemes such as granting out-of-turn promotion for the staff who take timely action to avert accidents. He said such schemes will go a longway in boosting the morale of the staff,” it said.

The Railway Minister emphasised that safety shall be given top most priority and track renewal works be taken up expeditiously.

He also asked the Railways to develop an action plan for eliminating unmanned level crossing gates in a year’s time, instead of 2019-20 as planned earlier.

Maintain all Assets in Perfect Condition to ensure Safety: GM,SCR

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway stressed upon according top priority to ensure safety by perfect maintenance of the assets and plan in advance to make them fit to ensure safety. He conducted detailed review meeting on Safety and Punctuality today i.e., 15th September, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. The Senior Divisional Operations Managers (Sr.DOMs) of all six Divisions i.e., Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded attended the meeting.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, held a review of all the safety aspects on the zone including the bottle necks in train operations. He advised the officials to meticulously plan the track maintenance works coordinating with other departments over the zone.  Vinod Kumar Yadav instructed the officials to sensitize the safety staff on regular basis by conducting the safety seminars, habit of reading safety literature on regular basis etc. He advised the staff to follow speed restrictions and called for immediate remedial measures to arrest any such failures. Vinod Kumar Yadav reviewed the Monsoon readiness drill including patrolling, monitoring of water levels of tanks etc., and instructed them to concentrate on vulnerable locations. Speaking on the Punctuality Vinod Kumar Yadav stated that the punctuality also should be accorded priority.

Speaking on the staff welfare measures, Vinod Kumar Yadav advised the officials to change organization working culture to create tension free atmosphere, so that the staff can work in quite atmosphere to increase the output and perfection.

K.V.Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer; N. Madhusudana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; Arjun Mundiya, Chief Mechanical Engineer; V.M.Srivastava, Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer; A.A.Phadke, Chief Electrical Engineerwere amongst the officials present.

CRS submits Preliminary Report on Derailment Accident of Train No.18477 Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express

NEW DELHI: Shailesh Kumar Pathak, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Northern Circle, held a statutory inquiry into the accident of Derailment of train no.18477 Puri- Haridwar Utkal Express at km.101/3-4 between Khatauli-Mansurpur stations of Delhi Saharanpur section, Broad Guage, Single Line, Electrified section of Delhi Division of Northern Railway on 19.08.2017. As a result of the accident, 22 persons were killed, 40 persons were grievously injured and 66 persons sustained simple injuries.

According to provisional findings of the Commissioner appended with his preliminary report, the accident occurred due to “Failure of Railway Staff”.

These findings are under the consideration of the Government. This press release is based on the information made available by the Office of Commission of Railway Safety, Northern Circle, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India.

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Rationalising Train Schedules may be the Best Choice for Railways under the current constraints to ensure Safety

Within three days of taking over as the new railway minister, Piyush Goyal had to grapple with three derailments, that too in a span of 12 hours. Frequent rail accidents and causalities have eroded the public perception of train travel being safe, and unlike his predecessor Suresh Prabhu, Goel has about one and half years to achieve whatever is expected of him. Given the run-up to general elections 2019, the expectation from the railway minister is to make train travel safe, no more and no less.

This is not to say that Goel should abandon the visionary transformation initiatives of Prabhu, such as the establishment of non-fare box directorate, mobility directorate, world class station development through public private partnership, establishment of Rail Transport University, halting the production of ICF coaches once for all, retrofitting the existing ICF coaches with the safety features of LHB coaches to reduce fatalities during accidents, Mission Raftar for Delhi–Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, Talgo trains, to name a few. He should take these initiatives forward to its logical conclusion.

But it would take more time to fructify and outcomes could be seen only during 2019-24 or beyond, So, the immediate task before Goel is to bring back public confidence in safe train travel. But is he going to ensure that?

A daunting task

The Modi government in 2014 inherited a dilapidated railway infrastructure from the previous governments and it would take even two decades to fix it completely. But, after being in power for three years, blaming the previous regimes for the sorry state affairs of Indian Railways (IR) cannot hold water with the electorate. In fact, what causes accidents and how they should be reduced have been elaborated in various reports, papers and articles. From this, one can conclude that there are at least two dimensions to accidents and fatalities. The first dimension is to avoid accidents altogether.

In the discussion note on Fund Deployment Framework for Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK), it was estimated that IR requires ₹1.54 lakh crore to carry out inter-departmental safety works, whereas RRSK funding provides ₹20,000 crore per year, which includes the budgetary support of ₹5,000 crore. At this rate, IR would take at least eight years to complete the inter-departmental safety works. Even if the entire ₹1.54 lakh crore is made available, the safety works cannot be completed in a year.

Reducing pain

The second dimension to safety is to reduce the casualties and injuries, once the accident has occurred. In November 2016, IR decided to stop manufacturing ICF coaches, which tends to raise casualities and injuries, by 2017.

However, the issue is much larger. About 50,000 passenger coaches of IR are ICF coaches, which constituted more than 95 per cent of the total coaches in IR. The Railways also made plans to retrofit all the ICF coaches with the safety provisions of LHB coaches.

However, the retrofitting would take years. Safe train travel and reduced casualties cannot wait till both these safety concerns are addressed by IR.

The maximum number of trains that can be run in a section depends on line capacity, the efficiency of signalling system, the speed of trains in that block.

However, about 65 per cent of the total railway network has been accommodating trains beyond their capacity. As a result, the maintenance staff does not get even two to three hours of uninterrupted window every day to carry out the maintenance work.

As a stop-gap arrangement, the NITI Aayog asked the Railways to redesign the time table in a manner that at least two to three hours of uninterrupted time is available for the maintenance staff to carry out safety checks for every block.

This includes combining few trains, increasing coaches or wagons and rationalising stops across all trains. However, a deeper understanding of how rail infrastructure is utilised by passenger and freight trains and how patronage for diverse types of passenger trains has been changing over the years would help here. It would throw light on how to rationalise the train time table.

Passenger trains (both ordinary trains and non-ordinary trains) and freight trains load rail infrastructure to the extent of about 67 per cent and 33 per cent respectively. IR ply about 2,800 non-ordinary trains (Express/Mail) with an average speed of about 56 kmph, which includes premium trains such as Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi.

Most of the Mail/Express trains include overnight travel as they are meant for medium to long distance travel. In addition, IR ply about 2500 ordinary trains, which are essentially day trains of short to medium distance with an average speed of about 35 kmph.

An ordinary problem

The analysis of rail travel data shows that share of ordinary trains in passenger transport measured in Passenger Kilometer (PKM) decreased from 37.50 per cent in 2005-06 to 26.20 per cent in 2015-16. The North Central Railway and East Central Railway covering UP and Bihar witnessed a decline of 22.5 per cent and 18.5 per cent respectively in ordinary train travel between 2012-13 and 2015-16.

Given their average slow speed due to so many stoppages, ordinary trains load the rail network more than the passenger transport they carry.

The railway lines connecting Delhi and Howrah passing through the states of UP and Bihar are the most congested sections of IR. A substantial reduction in number of ordinary trains either by reducing the frequency or phasing out ordinary trains in this route would ease congestion. This would give an uninterrupted window between dawn to dusk for the maintenance staff. The same logic should be applied to other congested routes of IR in other zones.

The new railway minister does not have too many options to improve the safety of rail travel, given the time and fund constraints. Rationalising the schedule of ordinary trains on war footing may be the best choice for Goel under the current constraints to ensure safe train travel.

SCR plan to eliminate all Unmanned Level Crossings within One Year: says GM/SCR

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway instructed the officials to eliminate all Un Manned Level Crossing (UMLCs) Gates by next year. He conducted a detailed review meeting on Safety and Punctuality today i.e., 18th September, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. The Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) of all six Divisions i.e., Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded participated through video conference.

Vinod Kumar Yadav informed that the Hon’ble Minister of Railways complimented the Zone regarding eliminations of level crossings which is increasing the responsibility of the Zone. The General Manager instructed that Employee Charter should be implemented properly in all Divisions and genuine grievances by the employees should be sorted out immediately. Speaking on the welfare activities of the women employees the General Manager instructed the DRMs to give priority on their grievances. He also instructed the officials to make an action plan to provide all stations and offices with LED lighting by the end of this financial year.

The General Manager speaking on the safety, instructed the officials to intensify field level checks, track maintenance works and address the problems on top priority. He reviewed the all unsafe working activities on the Zone and advised the officials to take preventive measures to arrest any such incidents. Vinod Kumar Yadav reviewed the Monsoon readiness drill including patrolling, monitoring of water levels of tanks etc., and instructed them to concentrate on vulnerable locations.

John Thomas, Additional General Manager; K.V.Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer; N. Madhusudhana Rao, Principal Chief Operations Manager; Arjun Mundiya, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer; Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan,  Principal Financial Advisor; M.G.Sekharam, Principal Chief Commercial Manager; Vinay Mohan Shrivastava, Principal Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer; Vijay Agrawal, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction); D.K.Singh, Chief Safety Officer; P.K.Sangewar, Principal Chief Material Manager; N.V. Ramana Reddy, Principal Chief Personnel Officer; Dr. K.H.K.Dora, Principal Chief Medical Director were also present during the meeting.

SCR to eliminate all Unmanned Level Crossings by 2018

SECUNDERABAD: Elimination of all Unmanned Level Crossings on Zone to be completed by September, 2018 stated Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway at a review meeting held i.e., 11th September, 2017 at SCR Headquarters, Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad. The review meeting was attended by Principal Heads of Departments and the Divisional Railway Managers of Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Nanded, Guntakal and Guntur Divisions took part through Video Conferencing.

General Manager instructed Engineering and Operating Department Officials to co-ordinate and plan meticulously to finalize and start works pertaining to elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs) by construction of Limited Height Subways (LHS) / Road Over Bridges (ROBs) / manning of gates etc., on the Zone.

The meeting which had elaborate discussions on Safety aspects focused on the need of the hour i.e., the track maintenance works to be carried out to prevent untoward incidents. Vinod Kumar Yadav instructed all the Divisional Railway Managers to carry out Safety drives in the Divisions and identify areas concerning immediate attention for undertaking track renewal works. He also reiterated for periodical Training Module implementation for Control, field Staff for understanding and mitigating the difficulties faced while carrying out the work. He stressed upon to carry out all the preventive maintenance works with top priority and attention. He also held a detailed reviewed of Punctuality status of the Zone and suggested to improve the same. He also discussed Division wise Loading Performance status and expressed satisfaction over the current trend. He emphasized on new avenues to improve the loading and earnings.

D.K.Singh, Chief Safety Officer; N.Madusudhana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; Vijay Agarwal, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction); K. Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer, M.G.Sekharam, Chief Commercial Manager, Smt Padmini Radhakrishnan, Principal Financial Advisor, A.A.Padhke, Chief Electrical Engineer, V.M.Shrivastava, Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer, N.V.Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer, SCR and Senior Officials were present during the meeting.

Focus on  Improvement of  Safety Systems To Ensure Safe Conditions: tells Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM,SCR to Safety Staff

Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway stressed upon according top priority to ensure safety by implementing system improvements meticulously. He conducted intensive review meeting on Safety, Punctuality and Passenger Amenities i.e., 04th September, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. The Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) of all six Divisions i.e. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded attended the meeting through video conference.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, held a detailed review of all the safety aspects on the Zone including minor incidents of unusual  happenings like weld failures, rail fractures and  human failures etc.,  He advised the staff to follow speed restrictions and called for immediate remedial measures to arrest any such failures. General Manager instructed the Officials to conduct vigorous inspections to identify the short falls which may lead to unusual incidents and advised to take pro active measures in all aspects to avoid hazardous situations. He instructed the officials to strictly adhere to the safety rules in implementing the system improvements to avoid unsafe situations. Speaking on the Punctuality Vinod Kumar Yadav stated that the punctuality also should be accorded priority.

He also took stock of Linen supply and cleanliness of bed rolls over the Zone and instructed Divisional Railway Managers & Officials to undertake special drives to check on proper supply of Linen.  Speaking on the staff welfare measures, he ordered the officials to inspect Hospitals, Holiday Homes and Rest houses to improve the infrastructure and facilities. Further, Vinod Kumar Yadav instructed the Officials to inspect the pantry cars regularly to maintain the cleanliness and hygiene. He instructed the officials to ensure the considerable improvement regarding cleanliness in all important stations over SCR.

Earlier, Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway  presented “Man of the Month” safety awards to fifteen employees for showing alertness in the duty and taking timely action to prevent unsafe conditions.

John Thomas, Additional General Manger; K.V.Siva Prasad, Principal Chief Engineer; N. Madhusudana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan,  Principal Financial Advisor (PFA); M.G.Sekharam, Chief Commercial Manager; Arjun Mundiya, Chief Mechanical Engineer; D.K.Singh, Chief Safety Officer; Vijay Agrawal, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction); V.M.Srivastava, Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer; A.A.Phadke, Chief Electrical Engineer; N.V. Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer; K.H.K.Dora, Chief Medical Director and Ashesh Agarwal, Sr. Deputy General Manager were amongst the officials present.

CSIR Lab develops smart device to monitor, detect Cracks on Bridges

CHENNAI: A smart device will now help structural engineers detect cracks on large structures and bridges before it is too late — all from the comforts of their office. Scientists from CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, have developed a portable device that will monitor weak structures and send alerts whenever a crack is observed.

The device called the ‘Triboluminescence (TL) Camera uses a light emitting compound and a smart camera that allows detection of cracks — invisible to the naked eye — on structures made of concrete, metal and fibre-reinforced plastic.

The compound when coated on a surface will emit light due to excessive pressure and the smart camera is programmed to capture it. The images can be shared through cloud storage or a mobile app, web browser or Bluetooth.

The TL camera device was among the many technologies developed by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory and on display at an industrial conclave in the city recently.

Scientist R Monika, who demonstrated the technology to visitors at the conclave, said the chemical compound used in the device is in the form of a coarse powder. When it is coated on the surface of a structure, it has the capability to emit red light when rubbed, scratched, pulled or ripped.

“In the case of a bridge or a flyover, its central portion and beams are considered the weaker parts. These areas can be coated with the compound. When vehicles move on the structure and these portions come under pressure, a red light is emitted wherever there are cracks. These cracks may otherwise not be visible to the naked eye,” she explained. “At present, structural engineers have to physically check for the smallest of cracks.”

To keep a record of the detected cracks, scientists have developed a smart camera that is programmed with an image sensor analysis software. The camera identifies the light emitted by the compound and captures an image. “The images can be accessed with details like date and time and width of the crack,” said the scientist.

The technology could come in for departments like the railways where there are several old bridges. Former railway officer R Ramanathan said railway bridges were once inspected by engineers with hand-held lenses that helped them check stability of the structures. Now, there are various modern hand-held devices like X-ray equipment and laser doppler vibrometer that are used to inspect minor cracks and measure strength of structures. “Unlike flyovers and bridges on city roads, almost all railway bridges in the country are about a century old. Indian Railways maintains a bridge register where all details of inspections and maintenance conducted over the years have been recorded. These come handy during future inspections,” he explained. CSIR-CECRI helps the railways in checking corrosion levels of Pamban bridge and provides remedial measures.

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Indian Railways will switch to LHB Coaches, reduce casualty rate by 25 times

CHENNAI: If a fast-moving train with Integral Coach Factory (ICF)-designed coaches derails, the deaths and injuries will be 25 times higher as compared to a train composed of LHB coaches.

This statistic, brought out in a recent audit report of Indian Railways, is a key reason why the railways will stop manufacturing the ICF coaches and switch over completely to the German-technology Linke Hoffman Busche (LHB) coaches.

Extracts from the report show that for 2014, 2016, 17 trains with ICF coaches which met with accidents, resulted in 431 deaths and injury of 866 people. In comparison, the three derailments that LHB coaches met with, killed only four people and injured eight. “This proves the superiority of LHB coaches over ICF coaches’. The latter is not safe for operational speeds of 100120 kmph with trailing loads of 2024 coaches,” the report noted.

On August 19, 13 ICF coaches of the Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh, killing more than 20.On August 29, nine LHB coaches of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailed, but there were no casualties.

“This is attributed to the anti-climbing/anti-piercing  features of LHB coaches due to vertically interlocked centre buffer couplers that prevent the coaches from capsizing in a derailment. None of the LHB coaches of Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express turned turtle despite a derailment in 2014,” the audit report noted.

ICF, Chennai, will completely switch-over to LHB coaches in a few weeks time, an official said.

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India’s Train Accidents are not even accidents, but High-probability Events caused by Systemic Problems!

The Dear Lives India lost in Rail Mishaps is a matter of Serious Concern – Can new Rail Minister has guts to shake the System to bring about a change?

India has had four train derailment accidents in the last few weeks. One of the accidents, in Uttar Pradesh on August 19, killed 23 people and injured more than 150 people. This series of serious accidents led to the resignations of Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu and Chairman of the Railway Board A.K. Mittal.

Since last many decades railway up-gradation was not keeping pace with time technology. Unions in railways rule the roots, efficiency and safety are the last things on their mind. Accountability is passing the buck and generally the blame is put on human error. However, we are supposed to follow rules. Shoddy maintenance of railways across India is the main cause for major accidents – particularly on the Northern India. Railways are also looting passengers by imposing safety surcharge. People started thinking that all the false promises were given from behind the veils of power mongers. God knows how the tough rakes are maintained or not but prone to more major mishaps.

India was one of the first countries in the world to build a large railway system. Its 21-mile railway from Mumbai to Tana was built in 1853, under British colonial rule. At the time of independence in 1947, the Indian railway network covered more than 55,000 kilometers, behind only the US, the former Soviet Union and Canada. The surge in India’s population and its rapid urbanization meant that the trains, which were relatively affordable, became the most important means of transport for most people. But the explosion in passenger numbers severely burdened the aging railway system, which had been constructed to a fairly low standard. As a result, accidents have not been uncommon.

As in the past the blame on the derailment near Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh is caused by negligence and the blame is passed on human error. The locals in UP expose lapses and it is very clear that accident could have been averted. The victims narrate their ordeal and that is pathetic.  Just by giving compensation we will not be able to make up the human loss. Eyewitnesses recount the horror and how the victims were struggling for help. Medical facilities reached the accident spot late and that shows the apathy and the lethargic approach of the officials.

By suspending or by transferring officials is not the solution.  More and more care should be taken on passenger safety and the railway budget should allot more funds to reduce the accident cases to a negligible level. The approach after the tragedy by the government does not augur well and the railway passengers are feeling lack of relief during such major accidents. It should not be out of context to mention here that the system is controlled by the Railway Ministry through the state-owned Indian Railways having more than 1.5 million employees and is India’s largest state-owned enterprise too. However, it is also probably the most inefficient Company in the world, in the state sector. Coupled with the government’s policy of low-cost train transport and high salaries for railway employees, the Indian Railways simply cannot accumulate enough funds to update its railway system.

The train accident near Khatauli saw tragedy struck killing of more than 23 people and injuring over 100 and that jolts the nation. It could have been averted if the track fractures had been taken care in time and a close watch carried on the train tracks. The derailment created fear among the passengers. Strange are the ways of train accidents in the Indian history. In the past we heard about bomb blasts, head on collision, wrong signal, smoke inside coaches and snatching of fish plates caused trouble and discomfiture to the travellers and caused major causalities at late night. A panel will be set up for a probe. But the dear lives were lost in a major mishap. Time tested methods are to be carried out regularly on all rail routes periodically.

The past governments have not given enough attention to vital infrastructure like railways. At the same time, India’s domestic manufacturing industry has fallen behind, unable to provide technical and equipment support for railway upgrading.

It could be said that India’s train accidents are not even accidents, but high-probability events caused by systemic problems. For decades, the situation has not improved. According to the statistics, in 2016 more than 500 train accidents took place in India. This problem cannot be solved by the resignation of the minister of railways. The minister himself to be serious on various corrupt practices in Railway system right from the Railway Board level to the Zonal and Divisional levels in the Engineering, Safety, Operations, Electrical, Signal & Telecom wings. Most of the Indian Railway officials are corrupt and past Governments have not taken sufficient steps to correct the system. Atleast Suresh Prabhu, former Railway Minister was too serious on such malpractices, as he has taken aggressive stand on corruption under the Prime Minister Mr.Modi’s regime.

The slow speed and frequent accidents on India’s railways have become symbolic of the backwardness of the country’s infrastructure. In the international media coverage of India, the train-related problems also give a negative impression of the country to the international community. Not only do foreign tourists feel insecure about traveling there, but foreign investors also have little confidence in India’s infrastructure, which has hindered the development of India’s economy and modernization.

Over the past decade, the government has recognized the importance of railways for economic development and it has proposed a series of railway construction plans. After Modi came to power, he expressed ambitions not only to reconstruct the original railways but also to form a “diamond quadrilateral” of railways connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta, the Delhi-Chennai high-speed railway corridor and the Mysore-Bangalore Chennai high-speed rail lines. At the same time, India also become more welcoming to the participation of foreign funds and enterprises. In September 2014, when Chinese leaders visited India, the two countries signed an agreement to invite Chinese enterprises to participate in a project to upgrade the railway from Bangalore to Mysore. India also announced in 2015 that it would invest more than $13 billion over five years to modernize and expand the railway system. In February 2016, India and Japan signed a $12 billion agreement to build a high-speed railway from Mumbai to Ahmedabad.

The Modi government’s railway construction plan is exciting, but will not be easy to achieve. First, the huge funds required have not yet been mobilized, partly because private capital hasn’t been properly involved, but also because there are still concerns regarding foreign investment. Second, long-term constraints in the institutional infrastructure in India have not been resolved, such as problems related to land expropriation.

Even if Modi can create a miracle and successfully complete his plan, it only involves the enhancement of the main Indian Railways, which account for just a small part of the entire Indian railway system. A comprehensive upgrade of the whole system will need a huge amount of money, and will take several decades to achieve. Therefore, news about Indian train accidents is not likely to fade away.

Piyush Goyal holds High-level Meeting on Safety with Railway Board officials

Comprehensive review of Safety undertaken. Minister emphasizes on according top most priority to Safety. 5 immediate measures to address the problem of Unmanned Level Crossings & Derailments. All Unmanned level crossings to be eliminated within a year

NEW DELHI: Minister for Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal held a high level Safety review meeting on 7th September, 2017 at New Delhi. The marathon meeting of the Hon’ble Minister with Chairman, Railway Board; all Railway Board Members & the Safety Directorate of Railway Board comprehensively reviewed the Safety measures for Train Operations. A detailed presentation on Safety was made at the meeting. There was threadbare discussion on the subject and the root cause of repeated cases of train accidents in recent past was thoroughly analyzed. In the meeting, the Hon’ble Minister emphasized that the safety is paramount and there cannot & should not be any compromise on this front.

Two major causes leading to accidents were identified as:

a)      Unmanned Level Crossings accounted for 34% of accidents in 2016-17
b)      Derailments due to defects in tracks

The special focus of the meeting was to identify measures to reduce accidents due to derailments which has emerged as one of the major causes of Train accidents.

The Minister for Railways gave following directions to the Railway Board to ensure Safety:

  1. All unmanned level crossings should be eliminated expeditiously on the entire Indian Railway network in a year’s time from now. The earlier target was to eliminate these in 3 years but by using Transformative mantra of “Speed, Skill and Scale” this target has been expedited to less than 1 year now.
  2. Track Replacement/renewal should be accorded Priority & the tracks (rails) earmarked for use for constructing new lines should be diverted to places/ stretches which are prone to accidents & where replacement is due.
  3. The procurement of new rails should be expedited on a large scale with a view to complete construction of new lines in time.
  4. The manufacturing of conventional ICF design coaches should be stopped forthwith & new design LHB coaches only should be manufactured.
  5. Anti-Fog LED lights should be installed in Locomotives so that unhindered safe train operations can be ensured during fog season.

The Hon’ble Minister has directed the Railway Board to monitor implementations of this action plan on a regular basis.

Piyush Goyal bans production of conventional ICF Coaches that topples over other in case of derailments

Railway Minister took serious note of the Utkal Express derailment that highlighted severe neglect on the part of the local authorities — both maintenance (Engineering) and station (Operating) staff — in reacting to a broken track.

On Thursday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has not only ordered the elimination of all unmanned level crossings within a year, advancing the deadline by two years. He told officials that the focus should be on replacing tracks prone to accidents immediately instead of laying new lines and asked the Board to expedite the procurement of new tracks on a large scale.

Importantly, he also directed the Board to stop the production of conventional Integral Coach Factory coaches that topple over one another in case of derailments.

The accidents last month led to a top-level rejig in the Railway Ministry, with the resignation of Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mital and Mr. Prabhu owning moral responsibility for the derailments. For the first time in decades, a Railway Board member was sent on leave, having been held responsible for the Utkal Express accident. Former Air India chief Ashwani Lohani has taken charge as the Railway Board Chairman. Mr. Goyal has made it clear that safety will be his top priority.

A string of derailments in the last couple of weeks has put the spotlight on rail safety. On August 19, thirteen coaches of the Haridwar-bound Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express went off the tracks near the Khatauli railway station in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, claiming at least 21 lives and injuring more than 90. This was followed by the derailment of 10 coaches of the Kaifiyat Express in Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh four days later, after it collided with a dumper, injuring around 100 passengers. This was followed by the collision of a train with a lorry at an unmanned level crossing in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram region on the same day.

The saga didn’t end there with three trains — two carrying passengers and one goods — jumping off the tracks in Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and Maharashtra within a span of nine hours on Thursday. Two more accidents were averted – one in Uttar Pradesh and the other in Mumbai when rail fracture was detected by the patrolling staff on Thursday.

Although the total serious train accidents declined from 135 in 2014-15 to 104 in 2016-17, the derailments went up from 63 to 78 during the same period. The share of derailments in total accidents has soared from 46.7% in 2014-15 to 75% in 2016-17. Till August 20 this year, 85% of the total rail accidents happened due to derailments, raising the alarm among authorities.

In a safety review meeting chaired by the new Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday, two major causes of accidents were identified: unmanned level crossings and derailments due to track defects. According to official figures, track defects had the highest share of around 44% in train derailments between 2012-13 and 2016-17. Derailments can also happen because of the failure of wheel and other train components. In 2016-17, 61.5% of the accidents happened because of the failure of railway staff against 37.7% in 2012-13. The Utkal Express derailment highlighted severe neglect on the part of the local authorities — both maintenance and station teams — in reacting to a broken track. While the track defect was detected early in the day, the maintenance team temporarily joined the tracks while waiting for a nod from the station authorities to get block time to fix it. Soon, the Utkal Express arrived at a speed of 105 km per hour, ran over the track and derailed.

In 2016-17, the total number of casualties in train accidents was at a two-year high of 238, mainly due to the derailment of the Indore-Rajendranagar Express near Kanpur, one of the worst accidents in over a decade, killing 152 passengers and injuring 183. In 2015-16, 122 people died in rail accidents compared with 292 in 2014-15 and 152 in 2013-14. The former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had announced a ‘Mission Zero Accident’ while presenting his last budget of 2016-17 before the rail and general budgets were merged. With a slew of accidents still taking place, it seems to be a distant goal.

Finding a Solution to the Increasing Number of Rail Disasters in India

India’s overstretched railway network is in urgent need of rehabilitation if it is to keep up with its passenger volume and improve safety standards.

After three derailments in less than a month, the standard of routine track maintenance on India’s rail network is under the spotlight once again. Of the three derailments, one occurred after heavy rains and landslides washed away the railway track in Thane district in Maharashtra. In this mishap, the Indian Railways itself was a victim of natural disaster.

The derailment of the Kaifiat Express at Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, happened when a dumper truck trespassed onto the track at midnight and hit the locomotive of a passenger train. Though everyone feels concerned about the 70 passengers who were injured, it must be admitted that the railways too deserve some sympathy for the random behaviour of irresponsible trespassers.

However, the derailment of the Kalinga Utkal Express at Khatauli appears to raise multiple alarms. The fears are about track renewal standards and track maintenance practices followed by the Railways, and the stubborn refusal to accept the need for upgrading track standards despite heavy increase in freight and passenger throughput since the last national-scale track rehabilitation initiated by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2002-03.

In a statement to the media, a railways spokesperson said that the prima facie cause of the Utkal Express derailment appeared to be a partially finished emergency track. The train crew were not aware of the track repair work, possibly because no traffic block (possession of track to rectify defects or faults noticed on the track) was granted for the repair work on that day. Since there was no speed restriction imposed on the track stretch where defects were being attended to, the train was running at normal permitted speeds and got derailed.

What ails Indian railways?

Several questions suddenly arose due to the unusual nature of the cause of the derailment. Doubts were expressed about the abilities of the railways’ track possession management (TPM) when attending to track defects. Is there a disconnect between operational performance achievement targets and track maintenance protocols as well as rolling stock safety and performance standards? Has the engineering member on the railway board abdicated his control over TPM for emergency repairs on track? Or is it being unauthorisedly controlled by some other board member who is not being held accountable? Does the same anarchy percolate down to zonal and divisional levels where railway managers are encouraged to emulate the work culture of the commercially-greedy train operating companies of Britain and adopt a bellicose attitude towards track possession for safety repairs? Are the traffic blocks being routinely refused by the divisional railway managers (DRMs) and general managers (GMs) and forcing track engineers to delay or defer attending track defects?

A ‘zero tolerance on punctuality loss’ is needed to assure passenger satisfaction and also to keep up the brand image of the railways. But should this be achieved by denying traffic blocks for urgently demanded track work and endangering the lives of passengers? DRMs and GMs are already under pressure to achieve their freight and passenger traffic targets and earnings management. One can understand their anxiety about not having enough social and bulk goods to carry. Even though the Indian economy is poised to grow at 7-7.5%, it, as of now, does not have much domestic coal or minerals to offer to the railways. However, the railways’ commercial fortunes are tied to these bulk goods. In the passenger business too, if we look at the passenger kilometres in the last five years, what is available for sale and what is actually sold have not seen much growth.

In a business environment driven by heightened commercial expectations and railways intercity transport brand image, the DRMs are tempted to often take risks by not reporting such defects and unsafe track conditions. The restrictions on gaining access to tracks for emergency repair works, due to denial of maintenance blocks, can drive track engineers to risky adventures. And there is reason to suspect that it was one such adventure that was enacted at Khatauli.

The harsh punishments that the railway administration might invoke to deal with human failures associated with rail disasters, could help in controlling mishaps to some extent. More urgently, the Indian raliways needs to worry about systemic issues.

The frequency of mishaps tied to broken rails and other track defects is an unmistakable symptom of a highly stressed-out track network that needs more than just track renewals. It actually demands need-based upgradations of track standards too.

India inherited rail tracks laid by the colonial government, mostly for military logistics purposes and as such, the track standards had generally been kept to a bare minimum. The truth is, that as much as 50,000 km of the present 66,000-km rail route was built by the colonial government as per standards meant for colonial natives. Not much has changed except converting the metre gauge into broad gauge, with hardly any track standard upgrades suitable to carry higher axle load freight vehicles and faster trains.

In India, Jawaharlal Nehru introduced the modernisation of trains. Subsequent prime ministers did not dwell much on the rail industry development or technology acquisition or modernisation till Vajpayee decided to make substantial investments in the renewal and rehabilitation of India’s fatigued track system and aged bridge structures on a national scale. The massive renewal and rehabilitation, planned and successfully implemented in 30 months between 2002-2005, is now more than a decade old.

With a substantial increase in freight and passenger throughput, the track network urgently needs a massive dose of rehabilitation layered with need-based upgradation of track standards, if we want to prevent any further deterioration in track conditions. There was some talk about the rehabilitation of tracks for some time but the kind of high impact improvements visible in 2003-05 and beyond are missing now. Let there be no mistake, all that can be done on the existing permanent way, through rehabilitation with existing track standards, can only improve safety. It may also help in achieving marginally higher track speeds. However, such moderate investments in improving track standards can only result in incremental improvements, which will have limitations. In other words, it might not help much in running faster passenger trains with speed potential above 160 kmph and 25 tonne axle loads freight trains together on the same track system. Mixing 25 T-axle-load freight trains with passenger trains above 160 kmph can be open invitation to disasters.

The consequences of the tragic Khatauli accident have not been good for the country in general and the railways in particular. Non-compliance with even routine maintenance processes are causing accidents, particularly due to human failure, at almost all levels. Somewhere in the midst of this are two serious issues.

Are the methods of excessive monitoring of punctuality drives, clubbed with cleanliness drives, passenger amenities drives and every possible social media drive, spreading the system’s physical resources too thin? The second is the manner in which safety is monitored. Emphasis seems to be on spruced up repair statistics. Defects in track are identified. But is the pressure to report expeditious repairs leading to misreporting? Field inspections and accountability at appropriate levels are the only way out. If track repairs need time and resources, it must be stated upfront. The same must apply to rolling stock. I had earlier commented on the tendency of railway coaches to jack-knife in such incidents. The same has been repeated. Little appears to have been done on fundamental changes in coupling arrangements and coach designs.

Bold initiatives to enable passengers to directly complain or take grievances, 24×7, were a roaring success. However, has this not pushed the understaffed establishment a bit too much, to instantaneously respond to hundreds of passenger complaints daily and consequently distracted the attention of officials from their safety-related core duties? Has the railway board made ministers aware that the Indian Railways is not adequately staffed to man safety category jobs? Many senior railwaymen do misguide their railway ministers by loose talk that Railways are an overstaffed organisation. Loose talk that rests on complete absence of meaningful analytics of the performance statistics.

The Indian railways transports 1,100 million tonnes of freight – which is huge. In addition to freight, it handles 8,300 million passengers annually, which is the largest in the world. It takes a lot of staff to manage the world’s largest rail passenger volumes. There is one railway employee per 17 passengers. In the Western Railway, which is the busiest zone, the number of passengers handled by an average employee per day is as high as 40.

Lessons from the world

Let us look at any country in the world. Only India dares mix the world’s fourth largest freight volume with the world’s largest passenger volume on the same network by over-stretching its capacity utilisation. The more we allow this misadventure to linger, the more we are exposing customers to avoidable risks. The government has done it’s best to provide resources for completing the two legs of dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) for accelerated completion. The DFC project, which was launched in 2006, is now overdue for commissioning. DFCs will facilitate separation of rail freight business from passenger business and will provide a lot relief to the railway network .

Amtrak, the US’s passenger railway corporation, is like the Indian railways. It is directly managed under US government’s federal railway authority. Amtrak has 20,000 employees, with each handling 4.2 passengers per day. After outsourcing all maintenance work to private contracting companies, the privatised UK rail train operating companies and network rail deal with only 51 passengers per employee per day (British Rail hardly carry much freight), which is marginally better than the Indian railway’s western line. For the French railways, the national average is 19.7 passengers per employee per day, almost at par with India. A German railway employee handles 18.7 passengers per day, again at par with India. A China railway employee handles fewer passengers per day than in the US. These statistical comparisons only drive home the point that a reduction in staff numbers can affect safety. A better option will be to improve output per employee per day.

Considering the limitations involved in running speedy intercity passenger trains on a completely “at-grade track network” such as India’s, where roads and highways intersect railways on an average of every two kilometres of route length is also going to be risky. More and more state highways, and rural and urban roads are being built every year in India. It means more roads will keep intersecting tracks .

To ensure safety, upgrading track standards would certainly help. However, it is also true that a substantial portion of the colonial-era railway system cannot take track upgrades beyond a limit. Therefore, the only alternative for India is to follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a ‘diamond corridor’, which was included in the BJP’s 2014 election manifesto. The railway ministry, which was given the task of developing the high-speed rail (HSR) corridor, reneged from the prime minister’s vision to float a parallel programme to operate 180-200 kmph semi-HSR on the existing at-grade embankments, which will be a disaster. Running such fast trains over at-grade track will kill more people. The modernisation of the railways with improved safety can be achieved only through the ‘diamond corridor’ if we want to connect more than 60 very big cities with the about one million passenger population and another 100 big cities with passenger population between 300,000 to one million, with a view to converting these cities into high growth centres. Regional airports and airlines alone cannot provide the kind of multiple intercity connectivity that a single HSR train is capable of providing. From the way in which the successful Rail Vikas Shivir was organised last year with the prime minister’s participation, it appears that a perfectly achievable vision for a modernised and absolutely safe rail network is the prime minister’s alone.

CRS slams Railways for Security Lapses

NEW DELHI: As the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) found the existing system in probing accidents to be insufficient, the World Bank has recommended for an independent rail safety regulatory and investigator to be set up, for averting accidents. Taking serious note of the sudden spate of tragedies on tracks – in which Railways admitted that 66 of 105 serious rail accidents were caused due to lapses by its staff – the 73-year-old international financial institution has also asked for creating a dedicated safety management system under the railway board chairman for reinforcing the prevailing accident prevention measures.

In its detailed report prepared after a comprehensive study, the World Bank had also asked for creating an independent safety regulator and investigator as per the international practice, to fix responsibility and take preventive measures to curb mishaps. Also keeping stock of the poor maintenance of tracks – a major cause of the train accidents, the report also stressed upon the need for reviewing the timetables of the trains for timely maintenance of the tracks.

It has also suggested for acceleration in the community engagement programmes, to minimise pedestrian accidents by addressing human and other factors contributing to the unsafe behaviour. Since mishaps at unmanned level crossings are one of the major reasons for train accidents in India, the Railways had already undertaken steps to eliminate all such crossings by 2020 as part its ‘zero accident mission’. The report had further sought for the need to develop a safety culture across the network.

Outlining the full support of the staff as the need of the hour to tackle and avert any possibility of an accident, the report said that without their wholehearted support, implementation of any policy or plan would remain a mirage. It may be noted that at present, with a limited power and span of control, the CRS had been assigned to probe all the railway accidents in the country, despite the fact that CRS falls under the administrative control of the civil aviation ministry.

Interestingly, CSR’s probe and findings had little role to question the rail operations as the Railway’s departmental inquiries after any accident have the final say in it. It may be recalled that former railway minister Suresh Prabhu, in April 2017, had hinted at outsourcing various international agencies for outlining safety measures.

The World Bank had also sought for modern equipment to detect rail fracture and paint of locomotives in bright yellow colour on the front to improve their visibility, particularly during the twilight times in the day. It has also asked to establish an emergency response plan to address derailments and fires.

CR revives Vasind-Asangaon Rail line; declare the track safe for train movements

The CR officials said that they declared the track to be safe on the Up-line between Asangaon-Vasind route at 6.25am.

MUMBAI: Finally after more than 97 hours, the Vasind-Asangaon section has become operational. The first train on the affected line, which remained shut since August 29 after the Nagpur-Mumbai Duranto Express derailed, was run at 7.54 am.

The CR officials said that they declared the track to be safe on the Up-line between Asangaon-Vasind route at 6.25am. The alignment work on the new OHE cables was completed by 7.40 am and by 7.54 am the first train — 12154 Bhopal Habibganj-Mumbai LLT — left Asangaon station and reached Vasind at 8.34 am.

“We have put speed restriction and trains are running at 10kmph. And Down-line trains have been made operational at speeds of 30kmph. Speed restrictions will be reviewed from time to time,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, CR.

Quick action

  • More than 500 railway men were pressed into action, and even local villagers came to help by offering food.
  • This train was carrying 1090 passengers and all were rescued safely, and none were injured.

World Bank asks Railways to paint Trains yellow, ensure high-visibility clothing for employees

NEW DELHI: Paint the trains yellow, have a fire extinguisher on every train, ensure high-visibility clothing for employees and provide four-hour weekly maintenance blocks on all main lines, these are some of the suggestions a World Bank report has made to the railways to ensure safety.

The report, titled ‘Strengthening Safety on Indian Railways’ was submitted to the railways earlier this week.

The report suggests that as an immediate goal, the railways should install “ditch lights” — safety feature in the front of the train to make them more visible — on trains and paint them bright yellow to improve visibility, especially during twilight hours.

It also asks the railways to add side markings to equipment to prevent level-crossing collisions.

“Take fire prevention measures and add fire extinguishers in every train. Choose high-visibility clothing for employees that can be worn all year round and ensure that it is worn at all times. Ensure that footwear and helmets chosen by employees with their allowance is appropriate for their activities,” the report said.

The report has also recommended that level crossings and paths should be painted with a cross-hatched pattern to highlight the dangers of being in the area.

In April, railway minister Suresh Prabhu had approached the World Bank for a study on the issue of safety. He had also consulted various international agencies for suggesting safety measures keeping in view the increasing load on railway infrastructure and subsequent safety issues.

The report has listed a slew of technical actions that the railways can consider over the next two years.

“Training the current investigators in the root-cause analysis of accidents, periodical review of timetables such that a maintenance block of four hours is provided weekly on all main lines, review safety performance in terminal operations with the intent to identify prevailing risks,” the report said.

It also asked the railways to establish an emergency response plan to address derailments, fires, or any other eventuality.

The report has also suggested three broad parameters to improve safety by following international standards.

It has asked the railways to create an independent rail safety regulator, to strengthen the powers of Commissioner of Railway Safety and to form a safety management system under the chairman of the Railway Board.

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Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derails – 7 Coaches go off track near Asangaon

Nagpur Mumbai Duronto Express derailed near Asangaon in Maharashtra this morning. Local trains have been affected by the accident. Central Railways officials said there have been no casualties reported so far.

ASANGAON: Seven coaches of Nagpur-bound Duronto Express derailed on Tuesday near Asangaon in Maharashtra. Railway officials said there have been no casualties so far. Reports suggest a rescue team has reached from Kalyan.

Central, Western Railway services delayed after Mumbai-Nagpur train derails near Asangaon. According to officials, the Kasara and Kalyan section of the suburban railway has been affected.

“Seven coaches of Duronto Express Nagpur-Mumbai 12290 derailed between Asangaon and Vasind railway stations. So far, no casualties have been reported,” the Central Railway PRO said.

The derailment took place just days after the Delhi-bound Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya district on August 23 At least 81 people were injured after nine coaches of the train derailed in Uttar Pradesh, making it the second train accident in a week. On August 19, Kalinga Utkal Express had also derailed in Muzaffarnagar killing 22 people. Taking moral responsibility for the train accidents under his watch, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had offered to resign but was asked by the Prime Minister to “wait”.

The derailment of the Mumbai-bound Duronto Express has affected the services on the suburban railway. Central Railway officials have stated that the movement of local train between Titwala till Kasara has been affected due to the derailment.

This will affect commuters travelling from far-flung suburbs and towns like Shahapur.

Due to heavy rainfall, the Central Railway mainline services are operating with a delay of 20 minutes and the Harbour line services with a delay of 15 minutes. The local train services on the Western Railway are also operating with a delay of 10 minutes due to heavy rainfall.

There has also been a cascading effect on the local train services between Kalyan to CSMT, which are operating with a 10 to 15 minute delay. This will add to the commuters’ woes, especially during the morning peak hour.

Sunil Udasi, Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway, said, “Suburban trains from Kasara and Asangaon are running up to Titwala only.”

On the mainline, CSMT-Howrah Gitanjali Express has been diverted via Kalyan-Panvel-Karjat-Pune-Daund-Manmad.

Seven bogies and the engine of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duranto Express derailed on Tuesday morning. No injuries to passengers were reported in the accident. The preliminary reason for the derailment seems to be heavy rains that had washed away a portion of the tracks.

Last week, four coaches of a harbour line train heading from Andheri to CSMT had derailed at Mahim. The railways conducted a nine-hour long public hearing into this accident on Monday.

9.45 am: Duronto express derails: Rescue operation underway, train traffic affected

9.30 am: Four trains diverted due to Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailment via Kalyan-Lonavala-Pune-Daund-Manmad. Five buses have also read the spot to carry stranded passengers.

9.25 am: While there have been no major injuries today, Friday’s derailment of a suburban local between Andheri and CSMT near Mahim railway station left six people injured. “I tried jumping out of the coach when it was getting derailed. My left leg received serious injuries. I was heading for my work when this happened and now I fear whether I will be able to recuperate soon to able to report to work this month,” Bankelal Kanojiya (38), a victim told.

9.20 am: A helpline booth has been provided near Deputy station superintendent’s office near Platform Number 1 at Nagpur stations.

9.15 am: The coaches derailed at around 6.35 am on the Central Railway making it the third derailment incident in the country in a period of 10 days.

9.10 am: While the Central Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said there has been no casualty or injury, an eyewitness travelling in the train said there may have been some minor injuries. “At least six coaches along with the engine slipped out of the tracks. We could not understand what happened. Few people were stuck in the washrooms and were rescued by fellow travellers breaking glasses of the windows,” Justin Rao, the eye witness, said.

9.05 am: Lohani was appointed as the chief of the Railway Board recently after a string of train mishaps. “Due to the recent spate of accidents, the image of the organisation has taken a severe beating,” he told PTI recently.  Young officers of the northern division were also asked for deep introspection to find the maladies and shortcomings that plagued the system.

9.00 am: “One board member, General Manager and DRM ordered to reach derailment site to provide extensive help to passengers,” Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani was quoted as saying by ANI.

8.55 am: ANI reported that Kasara and Asangaon suburban trains running up to Titwala. CSTM-Howrah Gitanjali Express diverted.

8.45 am: The reason behind the derailment has not been ascertained yet.

8.40 am: Local trains in up and down direction have been affected due to clearing of tracks. “Local trains running till Kalyan,” the Central Railways said.

8.35 am: Railways release helpline numbers. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: 22694040, Thane: 25334840, Kalyan: 2311499, Dadar: 24114836, Nagpur: 2564342

8.30 am: “Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailed between Vasind and Asangaon. There are no injuries to passengers. We are arranging buses to bring passengers to the destination. Doctors and senior officers are already at the site,” Central Railways said in a statement.

8.25 am: On August 25, four coaches of a suburban local between Andheri and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) had also derailed near Mahim railway station on the Western Harbour line.

Railways to get Rs.2.8 Lakh Crore Safety Revamp

NEW DELHI: The government has drawn up a Rs 2.8 lakh crore revamp plan for Indian Railways – Re-Build Railways – that hinges on safety, including supply of track detection machines from Australia, redevelopment of 65 stations and raising the average speed of trains.

Indian Railways is tying up with an Australian company called Track IQ that will provide technology and equipment, including a sensor-based system to detect rail cracks.

The tie-up will be announced on Wednesday.

“Making Railways safer is the first priority. We are tying up with Australia to get the technology. We have set the target to reduce accidents by 50% in next two years,” a top rail official said. The national transporter will also make its research wing, SHRESTHA, operational at the earliest. The research wing will focus on piloting the upcoming global rail technology that will minimise accidents.

The rail ministry has changed tracks and now wants to focus on elements that can deliver tangible results quickly. Almost Rs 18000 crore are being spent on making Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata rail corridors semi high speed.

The Re-Build Railways plan also includes retrofitting 40,000 coaches and making them safer and also making trains discharge free in a year by installing almost 50,000 bio-toilets.

“Ongoing projects such as the 3,300-km dedicated freight corridors will also be made operational within a year and a half. The corridors being constructed at the cost of Rs 1lakh crore will increase the average speed of freight trains from the current 25 kmph to 70 kmph and would substantially reduce the rail freight tarrifs,” the official said.

Railways claims that in the last four years, it has spent almost Rs 4 lakh crore on infrastructure creation and modernisation, against Rs 4.9 lakh crore that was spent between 1947-2013.

The national transporter has sanctioned 13,000 km of new rail lines in last three years against commissioning of 8,000 km that was done in 30 years before 2014.

With the 2019 elections in sight, the government has asked all infrastructure ministries to focus on early completion of projects and undertake new ones that could be made operational by 2019.

Trackside Intelligence Pty Ltd, or more commonly Track IQ, is an international manufacturer and supplier of railway equipment and services for the purpose of measuring operating conditions. After developing the (Bearing Acoustic Monitor) and WCM (Wheel Condition Monitoring) systems, Track IQ formed a partnership with Siemens to install the systems in the UK and Continental Europe.

Although Track IQ operates out of Australia, more than 120 of their systems have been installed around the world. The company currently services 12 countries, including China, Australia, France, USA, New Zealand, UK, Norway, Mexico and Brazil.

Accord Top Priority to Safety and Cleanliness: AGM/SCR

SECUNDERABAD: John Thomas, Additional General Manager, South Central Railway stressed upon according top priority to Safety and Cleanliness on the Zone in view of  the prevailing weather conditions during monsoon season. He conducted an intensive review meeting on Safety and Cleanliness today i.e., 28th August, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principal Heads of Departments. The Divisional Railway Manager’s (DRM) of all six Divisions i.e. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded attended the meeting through video conference.

John Thomas instructed the Divisional Managers to intensify the field level inspections to attain visible improvement in cleanliness of all the important stations and Trains. He also instructed the officials to inspect all the Stations and Depots under their jurisdiction and  take proper  remedial actions immediately to rectify the issues related to safety.

Additional General Manager reviewed all the safety aspects and instructed the officials to avoid short cut methods in attending the asset failures and advised to focus on Signal and loco failures which will have impact on trains mobility and improves the safety. He instructed the officials to take corrective action without delay to ensure Safety.

John Thomas while addressing the issues on Railway Hospitals, instructed the officials to intensify the checks and provide proper treatment to the railway staff and beneficiaries by the Medical officers and Para Medical staff.  He also advised medical department  to focus on hygiene and  ensure proper supply of the Medicines.

N. Madhusudana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; Padmini Radhakrishnan,  Principal Financial Advisor (PFA); M.G.Gunashekarm, Chief Commercial Manager; A.A.Phadke, Chief Electrical Engineer; D.K.Singh, Chief Safety Officer; N.V. Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer; K.H.K.Dora, Chief Medical Director; Sanjay Sankrityayan, Chief Security Commissioner were among the officials present.

Railway Reforms should continue with a sharper eye on Safety and Execution

At around 7 am on Wednesday, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu called up the Prime Minister’s residence to seek an appointment. The minister insisted he wanted to meet the PM immediately. The PM apparently conveyed the message that Prabhu could meet him after the cabinet meeting scheduled to be held that day. Prabhu seemed restless; he woke up at 4 am that day and instructed his key officers to move in no time to the Rail Bhawan’s control room. 

Soon after the cabinet meeting ended and Prabhu had a brief interaction with the PM, he tweeted, saying he was extremely pained by the “accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives”. Then he announced he had offered to resign. “Hon’ble PM has asked me to wait”, he clarified. He did not come to his office; instead he left the PMO and headed straight to an “undisclosed” location. “We have no clue. He has gone out of Delhi,” said one of his key aides when media persons rushed to Rail Bhawan that afternoon to hear from the horse’s mouth.

When we spoke with four railway officers to piece together this report. None wanted to come on record. At least on two points, they echoed the same versions. First, the two rail accidents in four days — Kalinga Utkal Express derailment at Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar (in which 22 died and 106 were injured) and Kaifiyat Express derailment at Auraiya (25 injured), both in Uttar Pradesh — took place because of human error by railway employees. Two of them doubted the authenticity of the control room audio clips that got circulated after the first incident, but conceded that there was enough proof to conclude that the men on the ground goofed up and allowed the train to pass at high speed despite glitches on the track. The audio clips make it clear that punctuality got precedence over safety. 

Second, officers close to Prabhu said the minister is indeed emotional. He thought of quitting soon after he had returned from the site of the Indore-Patna Express derailment last November, one of the worst train accidents that resulted in 150 deaths. Yes, poor safety statistics, 251 death from 145 derailments in the last two and half years alone will continue to haunt Prabhu or his replacement. And if the PM does replace Prabhu, the new minister will surely accord the highest priority on safety. But that raises several questions on other fronts.

Will there be a pause on spending on rail infra – Rs 4 lakh crore has been spent between 2014 and 2018 as against Rs 4.9 lakh crore between 1947 and 2014? Or, will the IR succeed in mobilizing huge extra budgetary resources (like, for instance, the Rs 1.5 crore loan taken from the Life Insurance Corporation)? Or, will the raging safety debate slow down the highspeed rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, for which the government needs to cough up just 20% of the proposed Rs 1 lakh crore; the rest will come from a Japanese government loan at a meagre 0.1% interest? 

Prabhu may have failed the nation on safety, but will a new minister be able to match him on the reforms front? I wish the new minister won’t take the railways on older tracks, like announcing new trains and laying foundations without any followup, a railway insider quips. 

IR Control Room Voiceovers 

Excerpts of audio clips, purportedly between the Khatauli station master and Delhi division control room ahead of the Kalinga Utkal Express derailment that killed 22 and injured 106. It appears a 20-minute block was asked for maintenance work, but was denied by the Delhi division’s control room:

1ST VOICE: Khatauli…Abhi nahi chale Utkal? Signal de de? (From Khatauli…Utkal Express has not started? Should we give the signal?)

2ND VOICE: Abhi nahin… (Not now)

1ST VOICE: Khatauli…20 minutes ka PWI block mang rahe hain (Khatauli…They are asking for a 20-minute maintenance work block); PWI is the permanent way inspector who heads the team of gangmen entrusted to physically check the tracks

3RD VOICE: Ye kaun sa block hain? (Which block is this?)

1ST VOICE: Pata nahin, koi gluejoint change karne ke liye bol rahe hain. Main isko bol raha hu, gaadiyo ka group hain. Ye kaise hoga? (I don’t know exactly. They are talking about changing some joints; I was telling how can we order a block when there is a queue of trains?) ….. De du 15-minute ka block? (Should we give it a 15-minute block?)

4TH VOICE: Block ka time nahi hain. Gaadiya bohut hain…(There’s no time for the block. There are a number of trains)

1ST VOICE: Thik hain (okay)

Engineering Dept.of Pune Division starts Close Monitoring of Works related to Repair and Track Maintenance

CR’s Pune Division on toes after increase in derailment cases. Illegal block repairs carried out by workers but no major mishap reported so far; authorities decide to up their vigil

PUNE: Two train derailments within a span of five days in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh have sent shockwaves across the country. While the Kaifiyat Express derailment resulted in injuring 100 passengers, the Utkal Express accident killed nearly 23. Both the incidents brought to the fore “unofficial” maintenance of railway tracks carried out by contractual workers. Now, taking serious cognizance of the issue, the Pune railway division has decided to maintain the tracks and ensure the safety of commuters.

The railway division’s engineering department has started closely monitoring works related to repair and maintenance of these tracks. While there have been incidents where the contractual workers are caught and fined for not maintaining the tracks properly, fortunately no severe mishaps have taken place in the city so far.

B K Dadabhoy, Pune divisional railway manager, informed, “The workers are always allotted maintenance blocks to carry out repairs. In case of any emergency, a particular block is handed over to them to carry out the work. There is a system of planned maintenance blocks in place. In case of the Utkal Express derailment, the authorities had refused to repair that particular block. However, the workers carried out illegal repairs there. Though after the incident, we have become extra cautious and are conducting round-the-clock surveillance to ensure that the tracks are regularly maintained. Passenger-safety is of prime importance. Also, we do not want to disrupt the train schedule on any of our routes.”

While the railway authorities claim that all is well, Pune-Lonavala trains that run on four tracks are in an urgent need for attention as they are over 40-years-old. The demand to replace or repair these tracks has taken force after a local train in Mumbai’s Mahim Railway Station derailed on Friday morning. Four coaches were thrown off the track and five passengers were reportedly injured.

Harsha Shah, president of the Railway Pravasi Group, lamented, “In March 1978, the Pune to Lonavala local train service had started. These trains are in a worst condition now and need to be replaced on priority basis. Every day, thousands of passengers commute from Lonavla, Talegaon Dabhade, Chinchwad and other stations to Pune. The seats are also damaged and the trains are not maintained regularly.”

When asked about the issue raised by Shah, Dadabhoy explained, “We are currently operating four local trains between Pune and Lonavala and they are maintained properly on a regular basis. As of now, there is no official demand sent to us to get new trains. However, in the coming years, owing to a larger population travelling in these trains, we would need to rope in new ones for the route.”

Meanwhile, talking about the maintenance work, a senior railway official, on condition of anonymity, shared, “Maintenance and repair work of the railway tracks are a continuous process, which are given to the contractors under the Pune railway division. There are instances when the repairs are delayed, resulting in hampering the train schedules some times. We have repeatedly instructed them and even warned not to carry out unofficial maintenance or repair works for any blocks. After the two rail accidents in UP, all the track inspection officials and superiors of the Pune railway division are ensuring stronger vigil on these workers.”

Heritage Billimora-Waghai Narrow Gauge Train’s engine derails near Waghai

SURAT: The heritage Billimora-Waghai narrow gauge train’s engine derailed in the dense forest area at Dungarda village, after it ran off the rail due to some technical reasons on Wednesday afternoon. There has not been any report of casualties.

Passengers, mostly tribal people travelling towards Waghai in Dangs, escaped unhurt when the heritage train going towards Waghai from Billimora derailed near Dungarda.

Official said the derailment occurred near Dungarda village, while approaching Waghai station at about 1:15 pm. The five coaches of the train were on track, while the trolley of the train’s engine derailed.

Station Master of Billimora, BL Bhairwa said, “The train runs on the speed of 20 kilometers. However, the derailment of the engine did not impacted the coaches. Usually, the train is packed with passengers on the week-days as people from Waghai arrive to Billimora for purchase and many arrive here for work”

Bhairwa added, “Our technical teams were rushed to the derailment spot. It took more than seven hours for the workers to lift the engine and put it back on the track. We are investigating the cause of the derailment and that the report will be submitted to the Western Railway (WR) in a day or two”

The heritage Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge train, a lone mode of long distance travel for the tribal in Dangs, completed 104 years last month.

The 63-km track of this train was laid by the British at the insistence of the Sayajirao Gaekwad in 1913. Initially, the train was supposed to be a part of Gaekwad’s Baroda State Railway (GBSR) which was owned by the Princely State of Baroda which was ruled by the Gaekwad dynasty. The motive behind this track was to keep the connection with the royal state.

Kaifiyat Express derailment: GRP files FIR against Railway Contractor, Dumper Driver

ALLAHABAD: Contradictory statements have emerged from departments of the railways as far as the derailment of the Delhi-bound Kaifiyat Express is concerned, with the railways claiming that the dumper which allegedly caused the accident belonged to a private person, while the Government Railway Police (GRP) stated that the vehicle was working on a contractual basis with the railways.

According to GRP officials, the dumper was working on construction of a third railway line, a freight corridor. The derailment took place between Pata and Achalda, less than 50 km from Etawah station.

Ravikant Parashar, deputy superintendent of police for GRP Etawah circle said, “The dumper was working on contract basis with the railway to dump soil and gravel for construction of the third line.”

Station officer of GRP Etawah Vijay Singh said, “At around 2:40 am, the dumper overturned and fell on the up track (Kanpur-New Delhi). Before the driver of the dumper could dial 100 to alert railways, the speeding Kaifiyat Express hit the vehicle and got derailed five minutes later.”

“In the accident, at least 40-50 people were injured. They were taken to Auriya, Kannauj and Etawah government hospitals,” Singh added.

On Wednesday evening, an FIR was filed by GRP Etawah against dumper driver Ballu and railway contractor Alok Dubey. “They have been booked under sections 279 (rash driving), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or safety of others) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50) of the IPC. Sections of the Railways Act, Public Property Damage Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. They had dumped soil to create aternate passage over the railway tracks,” SO Singh said.

However, chief public relations officer Gaurav K Bansal of North Central Railways said, “The dumper was neither of the railways nor of its contractors. Since there is no railway crossing, the private dumper attempted to cross the line and got stuck. The driver of the dumper broke the barbed wire and attempted to trespass the line, but when his vehicle got stuck, he abandoned it and ran away.”

According to the railways, there was no fault in signal or in railway track, as other trains which had passed earlier had not reported any faults.

Bansal said, “Loco pilots of Kaifiyat Express are heroes. They were not only alert but took appropriate action to respond to the unprecedented situation. Only 21 passengers were injured.”

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu offers to quit Cabinet taking full responsibility of Accidents. PM ask Prabhu to Wait

Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Union Minister of Railways

NEW DELHI: Suresh Prabhu offers to quit for 2 accidents in 4 days. He tweeted that he met the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra odi taking full moral responsibility. He also said that he is extremely pained to the losses of lives due to train accidents. He said he took moral responsibility for the accidents that have caused him deep anguish over the loss of lives. He said he met PM Narendra Modi, who asked him to wait.

This is what the minister tweeted over the last 10 minutes. “In less than three years as Minister, I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways. Under the leadership of PM, tried 2 overcome decades of neglect thru systemic reforms in all areas leading 2 unprecedented investment & milestones.

New India envisioned by the Prime Minister deserves a Railways which is efficient, modern and accident-free. I promise that is the path, on which Indian Railways is progressing now. I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish. I met the Hon’ble Prime Minister @narendramodi taking full moral responsibility. Hon’ble PM has asked me to wait.”

In back-to-back rail accidents, As many as 74 passengers were injured as nine bogies of the Kaifiyat Express derailed in UP’s Auraiya district early today after dashing against a dumper carrying construction material for railway work, officials here said. Yesterday, 14 coaches of Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Katauli in which 23 people were killed.

While the entire country is in deep anguish at the current juncture and importantly the Indian Railways, the Government Railway Police (GRP) has begun its investigation into the derailment of Kalinga Utkal Express with its personnel visiting the accident site and recording statements of locals in Khatauli, an official said today.

Investigating officer (IO) of the GRP, Deputy Superintendent of Police Randhir Singh met shopkeepers, house owners and others for their account of the what had happened on the evening of August 19.

“We will file our report against those found guilty for the derailment as soon as we will finish our probe,” Singh said.

Thirteen bogies of the train derailed on Saturday in Khatauli near here, killing 22 people and injuring 156, 26 grievously. The GRP had registered a case of death by rash and negligent act in connection with Utkal Express train accident under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and The Railway Act.

2 Derailments in 4 Days: Railway Board Chairman Ashok Mittal resigns

NEW DELHI: Ashok Mittal, Chairman of the Railway Board, today submitted his resignation to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, sources told. Mittal’s resignation comes in the wake of a number of a high-profile accidents and derailments on the Indian Railways.

Mittal was facing flak after the Utkal Express derailment in Muzaffarnagar. On Saturday, 23 passengers died and over 60 sustained injuries when 14 coaches of the Utkal Express, which runs on the Puri-Haridwar-Kalinga route, derailed at Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar.

Prabhu had directed the Railway Board Chairman to fix responsibility after the Muzaffarnagar incident. He also said that he would not allow laxity in operations by the Railway Board.

“Will not allow laxity in operations by the (Railways) Board. I have directed CRB to fix responsibility on prima facie evidence by end of day,” Prabhu said in a tweet.

Member Engineering Railway Board Ashok Mittal was on Sunday sent on leave after the prima facie evidence showed negligence on the part of maintenance staff as the reason why the Utkal Express derailed.

Divisional Railway Manager Delhi and General Manager Northern Railways, who had himself suspended four railway officials, have also been sent on leave. The Chief Track Engineer, Northern Railway zone, has also been transferred, hours after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asked officials to make those responsible for the tragedy accountable by the end of this day.

R K Verma, Senior Divisional engineer, Delhi division, Rohit Kumar, Assistant engineer, Meerut, Delhi division, Inder Jeet Singh, Senior section engineer, Muzzafarnagar, and Pradeep Kumar, Junior engineer, Khatauli, were the four officials, suspended by the General Manager Northern Railways.

Data on the Safety Measures taken on Indian Railways

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways, eversince Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu took over as the Union Minister of Railways, has taken a number of Safety Measures on entire Indian Railways. Indian Railways accord highest priority to safety in train operations. Consequential train accidents have declined from 195 in 2006-07 to 135 in 2014-15 and further to 107 in 2015-16. Number of consequential train accidents remained at a level of 95 during 2015-16 and 2016-17 (from 1st April 2016 to 6th February 2017). Accidents Per Million Train Kilometres, an important index of safety, has come down from 0.23 in 2006-07 to 0.11 in 2014-15 and further to 0.10 (approximately) in 2015-16. All possible steps are undertaken on a continual basis including up-gradation of technology to aid safe running of trains. Railways are inducting modern technology on regular basis. The Bullet Points on Railway Safety are as under:

  • The consequential train accidents have continuously declined from 135 in 2014-15 to 107 in 2015-16 and further to 104 in 2016-17.
  • In the current year also, consequential train accidents decreased from 29 to 15 during 2017-18 (from 01/04/2017 to 30/06/2017) in comparison to corresponding period of the previous year which is an improvement of 48.3% over the last year.
  • Accidents Per Million Train Kilometres (APMTKMs), which is an internationally accepted yard stick of safety has declined from 0.23 in 2006-07 to 0.09 (approximately) in 2016-17.
Type of Accident 2006-07 2007- 08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013

-14

2014

-15

2015

-16

2016-17 2017-18     (01/04/17

to 30/06/17)

Total 195 194 177 165 141 131 122 118 135 107 104 15

Download the official document released by Railway Board here:SAFETY MEASURES TAKEN ON INDIAN RAILWAYS New.doc (1)

In 2017-18, a Fund namely ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ (RRSK) has been created for financing critical safety related works.  The Fund has been created with a corpus of Rs.1 lakh crore over a period of five years.  In Budget Estimates of 2017-18, a provision of Rs.20,000 crore has been made under RRSK, which includes Rs.5000 crore from Budgetary Support, Rs.10,000 crore from Central Road Fund and Rs.5000 crore out of Railways’ internal resources.   In the Railway Budget 2016-17, Mission Zero Accident was one of the Missions announced, comprising of the two sub-missions:

  • Elimination of unmanned level crossings (UMLC) over broad gauge in the next 3-4 years.
  • TCAS (Train Collision Avoidance System): To prevent collisions and signal passing at danger by the Loco Pilot through developing an indigenous technology and also to increase throughput by increasing average sectional speed on Indian Railways (IR).
  • Elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings: As on 01.04.2017, Indian Railways have 27181 Level Crossings, out of which 19480 are manned and 7701 are unmanned. Out of total 7701 unmanned level crossings, 4943 level crossings are on BG (Broad Gauge). It has been planned to eliminate unmanned level crossings (UMLCs) on Broad Gauge by 2020.
  • Year-wise target fixed for elimination is as under:
    Year No. of UMLCs to be eliminated
    2017-18 1500
    2018-19 1500
    2019-20 1943
     Description Actual

    2014-15

    Actual

    2015-16

    RE

    2016-17

    BE

    2017-18

    Total Expenditure on Safety 42304 45516 63063 65241+
  • Track Renewal –The allocation for track renewal has been almost doubled from the last 5 years average of `5548. 6 crores to `9961 crores in the Budget Estimate of 2017-18.
  • Vehicular Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) System, Self Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT Car): – Decision to use Vehicle bound USFD testing has been taken to ensure faster as well as more reliable testing as it would cover larger cross-sectional area of rail. Procurement of these 6 nos. SPURT cars have been included in Rolling Stock Program 2017-2018 at total cost of `186.24 crores.
  • Trial of Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System (UBRDS) for detection of Rail/Weld fractures has been undertaken on Northern Railway and North Central Railway on 25 Km track length each. It has been decided to proliferate this system on Indian Railways based on outcome of trial.
  • Proliferation of Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches for improving Safety: Indian Railways is embarking on a mission to provide upgraded safety features on its coaching stock. As a part of this, it has been decided that only LHB coaches would be manufactured from 2018-19.  LHB coaches are of a superior design that reduces the chances of derailment and mitigates the possibility of grievous injury or death in case of accidents.
  • Refurbishment of ICF coaches: A policy decision has been taken to carry out the work of refurbishment and providing improved safety features in its existing ICF design coaches which have a residual life of more than 10 years. A total of about 40,000 coaches will be provided with these features in the next 5 years including production of new coaches.
  • Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS): Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS) has capability to control the speed of train in accordance with the sectional permitted speed and signal aspect ahead by automatic actuation of brakes, in case loco pilot fails to do so in time. Thus it mitigates safety risk of accidents/collisions due to loco pilot’s error of Signal Passing at Danger or over speeding. TPWS also reduces delays during foggy weather.
  • In the last 64 years, while freight loading has been increased by 1344% and passenger kms by 1642%, the route kms have grown by only 23%. This is causing congestion on tracks. More than 60% of the routes are being utilized more than 100%.

Myths and Realty on Indian Railways Safety

Myth No. 1: Number of Railways accidents and fatalities have increased under Suresh Prabhu

Reality:   The consequential train accidents have continuously declined from 135 in 2014-15 to 107 in 2015-16 and further to 104 in 2016-17. To state a comparison, the average annual accidents during UPA I were 207/ year, during UPA II were 135/ year and during current government have reduced to 115/ year

Although every human life is invaluable and is irreparable loss to us but the number of casualties have also seen a declining trend. Total fatalities in first 3 years of UPA I were 759, they increased to 938 during UPA II, while the first three years of this government has seen the number decline to 652. 

Myth No. 2: Railways has lost focus on Safety

Reality: Safety remains one of the prime concerns and priorities for the Ministry.

  1. When this government took over, analysis revealed that 40% of the accidents and 60% of fatalities were due to accidents on Unmanned level crossings. Hence, Mission Zero Accident was launched to ensure all Unmanned level crossings were eliminated by 2019. It has seen unprecedented success, where we eliminated 4258 UMLCs in last 3 years, leading to drop in fatalities from UMLC accidents from 64% of total fatalities in 2013-14 to 16.81% in 2016-17.
  2. State of infrastructure is an important constituent to safety performance. The infrastructure had been deteriorating due to years of neglect, which requires huge investments. Investment in safety have increased from Rs 33972 Crore per year during UPA II to Rs54031 Crore every year under this government a jump of 60%
  3. Congestion on tracks also has some impact on safety. Reduction in congestion is achieved by infrastructure upgradation which again requires huge capital expenditure. We have been working this regard also. Under this government, by the end of year we would be spending about Rs 4 lakh crore on infrastructure creation. In last 67 years since independence (1947- 2014) capital investment of Rs4.9 lakh crore was made on Indian Railways.
  4. In 2017-18, a Fund namely ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ (RRSK) has been created for financing critical safety related works. The Fund has been created with a corpus of `1 lakh crore over a period of five years.
  5. Decision to stop production of ICF coaches, the main stay of Indian Raiwlays Passenger Business for many years, and having no anti climbing features was taken in 2015-16.
  6. Existing stock of 40,000 ICF coaches (90% of total coaches) cannot be discarded and hence is being retrofitted with CBC couplers to make them safer.
  7. New technologies like Condition based monitoring system for rolling stock and Track and Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System are being piloted on the network.

Myth No. 3: Number of vacancies in safety positions has increased recently leading to a spurt in accidents

Reality: Average vacancy in safety positions during the period 2009-10 to 2013-14 was 18.65% of total sanctioned strength. This has dropped down to 16.86% in 2017 despite the sanctioned strength increasing by 5% from 2014 to 2017. Further, during the current government we have recruited almost 37,510 people in the safety categories taking the total staff strength to 635940 on 1.04.2017. Massive recruitments of almost 2,00,000 staff in these categories are also lined up

Myth No. 4: Railways has been dragging its feet to implement Kakodkar Committee recommendations

Reality: High Level Safety Review Committee had made 106 recommendations on various aspects of railway’s working. Out of 106, 68 recommendations have been fully accepted out of which 52 have been fully implemented and 16 are under implementation. 19 recommendations were partially accepted out of which 13 have been implemented. 19 recommendations were not accepted by the Railways.

Myth No. 5: Railways has diverted funds to develop fancy projects like Bullet Train

Reality:  1. Indian Railways has unflinching commitment to the poor and the downtrodden as can be seen by a few examples:

  • Passenger fares are still amongst the lowest in the entire world. In fact, Indian Railways subsidises passenger and suburban travel to the tune of almost Rs36,000 Crore annually.
  • Antyodaya express – fully unreserved, super-fast trains with enhanced amenities such as drinking water, vestibule trains, LHB coaches etc were launched only to cater to unreserved segment
  • Re1 clinic were launched at important suburban stations
  • Indian Railways ensures availability of Janta meals at all major stations
  1. High speed train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is being funded by Japan Government with less than 20% contribution from Govt of India. This money, which came at incredibly attractive terms (0.1% rate of interest) was made available ONLY for this high-speed project and was NOT available to fund safety projects for Indian Railways. Moreover, high speed train is the safest mode of transport in the world. Hence, the government has not diverted any funds from existing corpus.

Safety Overview on Indian Railways.

  1. Safety performance of Indian Railways has been gradually improving in the past 3 years as consequential train accidents have reduced from 135 in the year 2014-15 to 107 in the year 2015-16 and further to 104 in the year 2016-17.
  2. Accidents per million train kilometers (APMTK), which is an internationally accepted yardstick of safety has also improved from 11 in 2014-15, 0.10 in 2015-16 and to 0.09 in 2016-17.
  3. Unmanned level crossings accidents have decreased to 60% in 2016-17 as compared to the year 2014-15.
  4. No accident at Manned level crossing occurred in the year 2016-17 as compared to 6 accidents each in the year 2014-15 and 2015-16.
  5. A very proactive approach was adopted to eliminate the existing UMLC gates and reducing risk at existing UMLC gates by deploying Gate Mitras and use of 2nd whistle boards.
  6. It has been announced in the Railway Budget 2015-16 that Indian Railways will eliminate all existing UMLCS on BG within the next 3-4 years.
  7. Total 1503 Unmanned Level Crossings were eliminated in 2016-17 by closure / merger/ subway construction as compared to 1253 in 2015-16 and 1148 in 2014-15. This has contributed in reducing accidents at Unmanned Level Crossings.
  8. Elimination of 509 Manned Level Crossings was done in 2016-17 as compared to 390 in 2015-16 and 310 in 2014-15.
  9. Technological aids of Automatic Train Protection System to drivers (loco pilots) to avoid collisions have been progressively adopted on Indian Railways keeping priority for high density routes/ suburban sections within the constraints of resources.
  10. Simulator based training is being imparted to loco pilots to improve their driving skills and reaction time.
  11. For reducing Derailments, following steps are taken – Use of mechanized track maintenance system, Vehicular USFD machines, Improving the welding technology, use of head hardened rails, installation of way side coach and wagon hot-box and other defect detectors, Proliferation of WILD (way side load impact detectors) LHB coaches, CBC coupling retro fitment in ICF coaches. etc
  12. Improving Fire Retardants in Coaches, Provision of Automatic Fire and Smoke Detection System in Coaches, Provision of Water mist type Fire Suppression in pantry cars and power cars.
  13. Implementation of High Level Safety Review Committee – Of the 106 recommendations of the High Level Safety Review Committee (Kakodkar Committee), 68 recommendations have been fully accepted and 13 partially accepted. Out of these, 52 recommendations have been implemented and the remaining recommendations are at various stages of implementation.
  14. Foreign Collaboration on Safety: Ministry of Railways has entered into Memorandum of Understandings/Agreements with Canada, Japan. Russia and Italy for technical cooperation in rail sector, which inter alia include railway safety as one of the cooperation areas.
  15. Railway Safety Fund: In the Budget 2017-18, setting up of a ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ (RRSK) has been announced with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crores over a period of 5 years for giving a major boost to safety related works over Indian railways. A provision of Rs 20,000 crore has been made in Budget Estimate 2017-18 towards ‘RRSK’ to fund essential safety works. These funds will be used improving safety of track, rolling stock, acquisition of vehicle based USFD machines, on board rolling stock monitoring systems and proliferation of other safety technologies.

GM/SCR holds Special Safety Review Meet, seek Concrete Action from all Departments to attain Zero Tolerance record

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway held a special Safety review meet with the Principal Heads of Departments and Divisional Railway Managers of all the six divisions of Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal and Nanded today i.e., 22nd August, 2017.

The Special review meeting discussed comprehensively on all the issues concerning safety of rail operations thread bare and formulated plans to further strengthen the coordination and implementation mechanism pertaining to all the areas of safety on Railways. The General Manager emphasised on the need to understand the ground reality at all levels and accordingly chalk out a safety action plan, so that there is no room for any lapse, Vinod Kumar Yadav stressed.

John Thomas, Additional General Manager, South Central Railway was also present at the meeting, which saw a host of initiatives coming up from the officials present, to further enhance the safety mechanism system on the zone by means of continuous channels of communication between all departments at various levels.

“Swachh Rail – Swachh Bharat” drive over SCR

“Swachhta Pakhwada” the Cleanliness Drive under the “Swachh Rail- Swachh Bharat” Mission is being carried actively all over South Central Railway with enthusiastic participation of employees, officers and voluntary organisations. The activities held at the stations include cleanliness drives, display of posters and banners and street plays spelling the message loud and clear to the travelling public that the Railway was their travelling home.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, John Thomas, Additional General Manager, South Central Railway and Divisional Railway Managers of all six Divisions viz. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal, Nanded are regularly monitoring the Swachh Rail- Swachh Bharat activities.

A brief report on “Swachh Awareness” & “Swachh Samvad” held from 16th to 21st August, 2017.

  1. 239 officers & 5335 staff participated in cleanliness drives on the Zone.
  2. 287 Anti littering drives conducted and imposed a fine of Rs 63,600/- & booked 317 persons for littering the premises.
  3. NGOs, NCC volunteers, Scouts&Guides and school children were actively involved in awareness campaigns throughout the Zone.
  4. Passenger interactions on cleanliness of Stations and trains with 2928 passengers were carried out at different stations and trains.
  5. 10 Nukkad Natak and skits were played in various stations to increase awareness of passengers on cleanliness.
  6. Workshops and Training programs were held to educate the staff on cleanliness to be observed at working places and office premises.
  7. Received 229 feedbacks from various locations on cleanliness from travelling public.

Untrained Safety Category Staff cause of Train Accidents: Commissioner of Railway Safety

NEW DELHI: A  month before the Utkal Express accident, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) S K Pathak had raised concerns about the quality of personnel serving in the Railway’s safety category posts.

In a letter to R K Kulshrestha, General Manager, Northern Railway, which is dated July 17, Pathak had raised doubts on whether the staff was hired giving due regard to the prescribed qualifications.

Kulshrestha was sent on leave following the Utkal Express accident on Saturday.

The letter raised some serious concerns about the safety of passengers travelling on trains. The Commissioner of Railway Safety falls under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and it was done to ensure independent probe by a government agency.

“Most of the recent railway accidents are due to human error. This is a serious reason for concern. It appears that the Railways has failed to ensuring that the newly recruited staff in engineering, signal and telecom, traction departments are adequately trained,” said the commissioner of railway safety.

In Utkal derailment, the Railway Board has accepted negligence by its staff and three topmost railways officers, including Railway Board Member Engineering A K Mittal, has been sent on leave based on prime facie evidence.

Pathak said that in the last five years a number of new facilities, including new lines have been opened after statutory inspection and authorisation by the Commission. “While authorising the opening of some of the new assets, The Commission directed the Railways to post adequate number of trained and qualified staff to maintain these new assets,” Pathak said in the letter.

However, he noted that the Commission was not informed about hiring process and whether the staff have been hired giving due regard to the stipulated norms. Expressing concerns over a spurt in train accidents due to human error, the CRS asked railways to furnish details of the number of recruitments done to man the new facilities.

The Commission has asked the Northern Railway to tender a briefing on the process. “It is advised that the status of filling of safety category posts in all new sections already opened may be submitted to the Commission,” said the communiqué. An internal analysis by the Railways found that 87 per cent of all rail accidents occur due to human error. Of these, 51 per cent are due to failure of the railway staff.

Railways in process of using Modern Technology to plug Accidents: Officials


NEW DELHI: 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 today.

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 yesterday 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.

Chitheri Train Accident: Loco Pilot gets 10-year Jail for Accident that claimed lives of 12 and injured 71 in 2011

Police had filed a 395-page charge sheet in the case and said Rajkumar was speaking over the phone, jumped a signal and violated the speed limit. They also listed 165 witnesses in the charge sheet and quoted Southern Railway’s assessment that Rs 2 crore worth property was damaged in the accident.

VELLORE: The principal district and sessions court on Monday sentenced a loco pilot to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for causing a train accident in 2011 that claimed the lives of 12 persons and injured 71.

A mobile phone-wielding loco pilot, whose train rammed a stationary rake in Chitheri killing 12 people in 2011, has been found guilty of committing culpable homicide, and sentenced to 10-year imprisonment.

Vellore principal district sessions judge S Ananthi convicted loco pilot A Rajkumar who drove the Chennai Beach-Vellore MEMU on the fateful day, under two counts and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for maximum period of 10 years. Delivering the verdict, principal district and sessions judge sentenced A. Rajkumar, the then loco pilot of Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) Train no. 66017 – Chennai Beach to Vellore Cantonment, to 10 years rigorous imprisonment under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code.

According to A Dilli Babu, public prosecutor, a total of 74 witnesses were examined in the case, and 12 material evidence too were submitted. This included the mobile phone of the loco pilot and speedometer of the train engine.

Rajkumar had made phone call to a fellow loco-pilot, Ravi, when he was in-charge of the train. During the conversation, he told Ravi that he had to return from Vellore to Chennai the same night and hence he was rushing to Katpadi. During the course of the conversation, the phone call got disconnected and then it became not reachable, Ravi had depose during the trial.

Police stated that the train was being driven at 97 kmph, as against the permitted speed of 75 kilometres per hour.

During trial, police also produced the call details of Rajkumar’s mobile number, which clearly showed that he was speaking on the mobile while driving the train, which is against rules as per the Railway Board orders. While on the call, he missed the signal and dashed against the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger train.

On September 13, 2011, the Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit-66017 driven by Rajkumar rammed into a stationary train Arakkonam-Katpadi Passenger at Chitheri at 9.24 pm. Twelve persons died, while 71 were grievously injured in the accident. Of the 12 deceased, 11 had died on the spot, while another person died at the hospital. The then station master of Walajah Road station Krish Kumar, 31, was one among the deceased. He had gone to Arakkonam to buy gifts for his son’s first birthday.

Sessions judge Ananthi sentenced that Rajkumar must serve 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for offences punishable under Section 304 (ii) of IPC besides five years and Rs 1 lakh fine under Section 3 of Tamil Nadu Public Property Prevention of Damage and Loss Act, 1992 read with 151 of Railways Act. Though he was also booked under section 308 of IPC, he was acquitted of the charge. He will serve the imprisonment concurrently. If he failed to pay the fine, he will have to undergo one year imprisonment. He was acquitted of charges filed under Section 308 (attempt to culpable homicide) of the IPC. He will undergo the imprisonment concurrently.

“As per stipulated rules, the train should ply at 75 kmph. Instead, the train was plying at 97 kmph,” he said.

Police had filed a 395-page charge sheet in the case and said Rajkumar was speaking over the phone, jumped a signal and violated the speed limit. They also listed 165 witnesses in the charge sheet and quoted Southern Railway’s assessment that Rs 2 crore worth property was damaged in the accident.

Everybody knew Khatauli Track had Cracks, Why One-Sided Action?

Saturday, 19 August, 2017 will go down in the history of the Indian Railways as the day when everyone knew of the impending disaster, but no one blew the whistle. 

NEW DELHI: The railway track at Khatauli had developed cracks. It could break any time. The maintenance team from the Engineering Department are aware of it. The maintenance engineer (Permanent Ways Inspector) sought permission from the Station Master for a block of 15-20 minutes for a no-traffic window when they could have cut the damaged portion and repaired it. The station master, after consulting his superiors – section controller – denied the block.

Maintenance Workers Flee on Seeing the Train

The maintenance team then went ahead without permission. They cut the railway line, re-laid the undamaged section of the railway line and started welding the piece.

Before the job was finished, they saw the Kalinga Utkal Express approaching at a speed of 105 km/hour.

The workers fled the scene leaving the work unfinished. They panicked so much that they even left their welding machine and tools on the track.

The facts are slowly emerging of criminal negligence from all quarters that resulted in derailment of the Kalinga Utkal Express in Khatauli.

Saturday, 19 August, will go down in the history of the Indian Railways as the day when everyone knew of the impending disaster, but no one blew the whistle. The audio-recordings and documents that indicate culpability of both the engineering section as well as the operations division of the railways is a clear indication that lethargic staff from various departments contributed for the mishap, and not just engineering department. The Operating Staff also played a role in derailment and cannot go unscathed.

ASM Seeks 20-Minute Window for Repair

In one such recording, Assistant Station Master (ASM) of Khatauli,Prakash Kumar is heard asking Section Controller (SC), PB Taneja – responsible for operations and smooth traffic between Delhi and Saharanpur – that PWI is asking for a 20 minutes ‘block’. The conversation that took place minutes before the mishap goes like this –

SC: Khatauli?

ASM: Sir, the PWI people are asking for a 20-minutes block.

SC: Which block is this now?

ASM: They are saying they have to change something called the glue-joint? But that would bring entire traffic to a halt – main line and loop line, everything will be blocked.

SC: Trains are lined up…

ASM: Yes sir, that is what I have been telling them. Group of trains are coming, how can a block be given to them?

SC: Okay.

In another conversation, the ASM is asking the Section Controller whether he should turn the signal red. SC tells him how can that be allowed as the Utkal Express would then come to a halt. The train has already started moving and should not be stopped at Khatauli.

ASM followed the instructions and it culminated in the mishap which claimed over two dozen lives.

There is yet another conversation that took place a while earlier, in which the ASM is informing the SC of an impending request of PWI for a 15-minutes window to repair the track, but the SC flatly refuses to grant the block as this was a rush hour and a number of trains were moving in that direction.

Unfair to Blame Only the Engineering Division

The matter was, in fact, discussed not only at the junior level – PWI and SM, but at senior levels too. Senior Divisional Manager RK Verma spoke to Divisional Operations/Movements Manager (Delhi), Sudeep Kumar about the cracks in the track at Khatauli.

A day after the accident, station master of Khatauli, Rajendra Singh, in his interviews to newspapers and TV channels, denied knowledge of any ongoing repair on the track.

In any case, when ongoing repair work was common knowledge in Khatauli, Singh feigning ignorance about something that was barely 200 meters from his station and was informed repeatedly about the need for a ‘block’, is simply criminal. A memo was also written by the PWI to SM, Khatauli, Rajendra Singh seeking permission for repairs.

This resulted in the blame being squarely laid on the engineering division and immediate action was initiated against eight officials – right from the PWI to Member (Engineering) of the Railway Board. The operations divisions, however, escaped unscathed. No action was initiated against ASM, SM, SC, Divisional Operations Manager, Chief Operations Manager or Member (Traffic) of Railway Board.

One-Sided Action

It is not that the engineering section is above board. If there were cracks in the track, they shouldn’t have given the go-ahead without permission from the operations division.

Even if they had to go urgently, they should have taken enough precautions to avert the mishap. They should have posted couple of personnel with red flags at least one kilometre ahead of the repair site. This would have either stopped the train or at least would have slowed it down to a manageable speed.

This is the first time top officials like Member, Railway Board, have been taken to task for a train accident. But only one-sided action against the engineering division is causing more than just a few ripples.

Commissioner of Railway Safety inspects Utkal Express Accident Site

KHATAULI: Commissioner, Railway Safety Shailesh Pathak on Monday visited Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar where 14 coaches of Kalinga Utkal Express derailed on Saturday claiming 22 lives. Pathak and his team inspected the accident site and also met the local people.

Meanwhile, the two-day long statutory enquiry into the rail accident will begin on Tuesday in Divisional Railway Manager’s office in Delhi. The railways had on Sunday sent on leave three senior officials, suspended four officials and transferred one official following the train tragedy.

At least 22 people died and over 156 injured when the Haridwar bound train coming from Puri in Odisha derailed on Saturday evening.

Railways amending Guidelines on Safety checks

With yet another train derailment claiming 23 lives, the Railways is going back to drawing board, amending guidelines on safety checks to avoid repeat of such incidents in future. There have been at least 23 rail accidents across India since 2014.

Sources opined that though one might see a proactive Railway ministry on social media, the ground situation speaks a different story. Now, with the rescue work at Utkal Express mishap site over, the Railways feels that it is time to plug the loopholes and fix the problem areas.

“We will issue necessary safety guidelines once the Commissioner of Railway Safety is through with his probe report,” said Vinod Kumar, Advisor (Safety), Railway Board. The Central and Western Railway officials claim that they too are expecting some sort of guidelines on maintaining safety in the days to come.

Guidelines apart, one of the possible causes behind this derailment is said to be the lack of coordination between the rail authorities and gangmen who maintain tracks. Sources said the gangmen alone cannot be faulted as across Indian Railways there is a practise of gangmen being asked to do personal chores at rail quarters and bungalows.

Not just this, the Railways pays little heed to the rail representatives and associations. For instance the Railway ministry has appointed commuter representatives and formed committees who discuss problems related to train travel. These are called Zonal Railway Users’ Consultative Committee (for the entire zone like CR, WR), Divisional Railway Users’ Consultative Committee (Mumbai Division), which are meant to discuss the issues faced by commuters.

“For the last two years, there has been only two meetings with the Railways,” said Subhash Gupta, member, ZRUCC. These members take stock of the issues faced by people and then discuss it with the railway authorities.

“Ideally, these meetings should take place once in every three months, but it rarely happens. Moreover, the rail authorities show scant interest in holding such meetings,” said Madhu Kotian, member, ZRUCC.

Blaming the Railways for the accidents, they claim that the latter pay little heed to their suggestions concerning rail safety.

Criminal negligence in Utkal Derailment: 4 Engineers suspended, 3 top Officials sent on leave

Gangmen, employees who are recruited to maintain railway tracks, are asked to do personal chores of Railway Officers at railway their Bungalows, claim sources. Chores include buying vegetables for railway personnel, escorting kids to school, cleaning, washing and maintaining the bungalows etc. This could be one of the reasons behind the derailment of Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express on Saturday as these gangmen spend more time doing chores than maintain tracks; sources said.

NEW DELHI: Four engineers were suspended, three top officials — including the Northern Railway General Manager — were sent on leave, while another was transferred for Saturday’s train accident in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, in which 24 passengers were killed.

The action was taken after a Railway inquiry found the Permanent Way Department that checks the routes of regular trains responsible for the derailment of the high-speed Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express near Khatauli Railway station. The inquiry team informed the Railway Ministry that maintenance work was in progress at the accident site and tracks were being cut with the help of hexa blades. It had resulted in removal of some nuts and bolts and displacement of fish plates. The accident that left more than a hundred passengers wounded was caused by the toppling of the 13th coach, sources said.

Based on prima facie evidence, the ministry suspended a Junior Engineer, a Senior Section Engineer, an Assistant Engineer and a Senior Divisional Engineer. The Chief Track Engineer, Northern Railway, has been transferred, while the Northern Railway General Manager, the Divisional Railway Manager and the Member Engineering of the Railway Board have been sent on leave. Heads rolled after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asked the Railway Board Chairman to fix responsibility “by end of day.” An FIR was registered against unknown persons for causing death by negligence, mischief, and destruction of railway property.

Sources at Khatauli Raliway station said the tracks were under repair but authorities did not caution the driver to slow down. The train was running at 105 kmph when thirteen of its carriages jumped the tracks. The train does not stop at Khatauli, about 130 km north of Delhi. Trains passing through the Meerut line of the Northern Railway were either cancelled or diverted till 6 pm on Sunday.

The Railways has already approved a proposal to change about 200 metres of damaged tracks near Khatauli. The work on the project is on and trains on this route are supposed to be cautioned to run slow, sources said. Two coaches of the train crashed into a residential area, ramming a house and a college.

The Railways’ Additional Director General, BK Maurya, earlier in the day talked about two possibilities. “Either the train driver overlooked the caution board to slow or Railway authorities did not put up any caution board at all. In case of the second possibility, the station master should have called the driver or changed the track. He could have also given the stop signal to avert the derailment.”

Two trains had passed the tracks, before the accident, at 15 kmph without any problem, he said, adding, “Over-speeding and gross negligence by Khatauli station authorities seem to be prima facie case behind the derailment,” he said. This was the fourth major accident — third in UP — over the past year on the world’s fourth biggest rail network.

Maurya did not rule out the possibility of the driver applying the emergency brakes, reasons for which are under investigation by higher authorities. “Otherwise, the train would not have turned turtle or coaches piled on top of one another,” he said.

“Some maintenance work was going on, which might have caused the derailment,” Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, also said at a news briefing here.

“There is an audio clip of a conversation that we will probe. Also, when we did a site inspection, we saw some equipment of the railways used for track repair present there,” he said.

An eye-witness also supported the officials’ theory. “There was a deafening sound before the derailment as if the train hit something. It seemed that the driver saw something at the last moment and applied the emergency brakes,” he said.

Sources in the engineering division of the Railways claim that they had warned the Khatauli station authorities of repair work being carried out on the tracks. “We had no knowledge of technical problems,” Khatauli Station Superintendent Rajinder Singh, however, told a news channel.

Gangmen, employees who are recruited to maintain railway tracks, are asked to do personal chores at railway quarters, claim sources. Chores include buying vegetables for railway personnel, escorting kids to school, and maintaining the bungalows etc. This could be one of the reasons behind the derailment of Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express on Saturday as these gangmen spend more time doing chores than maintain tracks, sources add.

Hindustan Zinc can help build corrosion-free infra for Railways: HZL CEO Sunil Duggal

Corrosion reduces life of rails & increases maintenance workload. India loses more than Rs 6 lakh crore annually to corrosion, says Hind Zinc CEO
Sunil Duggal, CEO, Hindustan Zinc Ltd.

NEW DELHI: Pitching for corrosion-free infrastructure for the Railways, Hindustan Zinc Chief Executive Officer Sunil Duggal on Sunday said galvanising tracks could help achieve zero fatalities.

According to estimates, India loses about 4 per cent GDP annually on account of corrosion of such infrastructure.

“Zinc can help build corrosion-resistant infrastructure for Indian Railways that will help the Indian Railways achieve zero fatality,” Duggal told PTI.

He reasoned that corrosion-free infrastructure like rails, bridges, electrical poles, and fish plates will be more durable and add to passengers’ safety.

Terming the Railways’ vision document as “progressive”, Duggal said the need is to have corrosion-free infrastructure.

“Rail tracks in India are intermittently exposed to ultra violet rays of the sun and heavy rains. Passenger safety is of utmost importance and recent accidents have indicated corrosion of rails and fish plates as one of the major causes, which could have been avoided,” he said.

He made a case for corrosion-resistant infrastructure for not just rails, but bridges, electrical poles, fish plates and nuts and bolts “if we are looking for long-term investments in this sector and impact GDP of India”.

According to Duggal, corrosion reduces the life of rails by nearly half, which increases maintenance workload.

Corrosion of rails causes huge economic loss because of frequent rail replacements

The ministry’s vision document for 2017-19 puts a premium on economic growth and development, besides targeting reduction in accidents.

For now, the Railways is focusing on bridges and track upgradation, long-lasting infrastructure and electrification of train tracks and looking to eliminate 6,113 unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines across India.

Hindustan Zinc (HZL) in association with International Zinc Association (IZA) has recently organised an international conference on the galvanisation process.

Vedanta Group firm HZL had posted 81 per cent jump in net profit at Rs 1,876 crore for the quarter ended June, helped by better pricing and higher volume.

The total income during the April-June quarter stood at Rs 5,543 crore, registering an increase of 61 per cent over the year-ago period.

Has Corrupt Bureaucracy at Zonal level eroded Rail Safety?

53% of 586 train accidents in last 5 yrs due to derailments. Less than 40% spend of the Rail Safety Fund by Zonal Railways for Safety Upgrade seems to be one of the biggest reason apart from corrupt Bureaucracy that eroded Rail Safety – an important task which is not a Rocket Science. Lack of determination and willingness to set proper practices in place and the lack of professional approach in meeting Safety Norms by few Officials at Zonal level is the cause of concern; leave alone the Laxity in Bureaucracy!

(The writer is Secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own).

Muzaffarnagar: The death of 23 passengers due to the derailment of the Haridwar-bound Utkal Express on 19 August is yet another instance of callousness of our Railways. This is not a one-off incident. Seventy derailments were reported in 2016, and almost 30 more have been reported this year. Derailment of goods trains and incidents with no casualty are hardly ever covered by the media.

Even when passengers escape death, frequent derailments are not a good sign. If anything, it shows that either the wheels are worn out or there is some mechanical failure. Nearly 53 per cent of the 586 train accidents in the last five years were due to derailments with the Utkal Express derailment being the latest. Notwithstanding the railways’ attempts to upgrade the safety apparatus, many such accidents continue to occur.

According to official figures, of a total of 586 rail accidents in the last five years, nearly 53 per cent were due to derailments.

Since November 2014, there have been 20 rail accidents, many of them minor.

The worst accident was the November 20, 2016, derailment of the Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur which resulted in 150 deaths and over 150 injuries.

The train pulled out of Pukhrayan station, on the outskirts of Kanpur, and derailed soon after. Several causes, including overcrowding and fracture in the railway line, were attributed to the accident.

On September 12, 2015, a narrow-gauge train, the Shivalik Queen, a chartered train from Kalka to Shimla, derailed on September 12, 2015.

36 British tourists and a tour guide were on the train. Two of the tourists died in the accident and 15 were injured.

Nine coaches of the Secunderabad Junction-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Duronto Express derailed near Karnataka’s Kalburgi town on September 12, 2015, resulting in two deaths and seven injuries.

On January 21, 40 passengers were killed and several injured when seven coaches and the engine of 18448 Jagadalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed near Kuneru railway station.

The Madhya Pradesh twin train derailments happened on August 4, 2015, when the Kamayani Express, on its way to Varanasi in UP, was the first to derail owing to flash floods in the area, followed by the Janata Express. The total casualty was 31 with over 100 injured.

The Rourkela-Jammu Tawi Muri Express derailed in Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh on May 25, 2015. Eight bogies of the train derailed, leaving five dead and over 50 injured.

On March 20, 2015, the Dehradun-Varanasi Janata Express derailed in Rae Bareli district resulted in the death of 58 passengers and injuring over 150.

On February 13, 2015, 10 people were killed and around 150 were injured when nine bogies of the Bangalore-Ernakulam Intercity Express derailed on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Placing the Blame Without Proof

In some cases, even though sabotage is hinted at, the claims are not backed by proof. The sabotage angle is thrown in and by the time the enquiry is over, no one gets to read the report.

In a recent accident in Kanpur on 20 November, the Railways department immediately blamed the fractured tracks, without showing a photograph or any concrete proof. Later on 28 January, a Railway Safety Commission official ruled out sabotage and fog, fixing the blame instead on overaged wheels.

Funds Meant for Safety Misused

The amount, Rs 1 lakh crore, given to Railways for enhancing safety could now be misused — just as the Safety Fund created by Nitish Kumar was misused. The money will be spent on laying new lines and gauge conversion which should ideally come under capital expenditure. Hardly 30 percent would be spent on signal improvement, maintenance and technology upgradation, such as the remote checking of trains.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the action taken on its recommendations says (SCR 188 2013-14) that less than 40 percent of the money allotted for safety had been utilised by the Railways!

Mr Suresh Prabhu has an onerous job of utilising this fund for its original purpose. One can hope a number of distressed bridges, old tracks, out of date signalling systems, and other safety enhancement devices are replaced using the Safety Fund.

A Long Pending Technology Overhaul

If you read the previous ten Railway budgets, you can find references to projects like anti-collision device, advance warning system, satellite-based global positioning system, train collision avoidance system, train protection warning system, fire-retardant coaches, vigilance control device, auxiliary warning system, self-propelled ultrasonic rail testing cars (for flaw detection). However, these are still pilot projects.

If you let them, the department will invent phrases for another ten budgets. It feasts on the ignorance of public, and an absence of overall accountability.

Railways would not install scoot and flash devices at unmanned level crossings, but they would appoint people (to generate a source of income) to close the gates. Several gatemen had been found sleeping or absent while accidents happened.

It is not true that more money means more safety. Most of the accidents have been caused by human errors, and this is the result of poor training and wrong recruitment policies. With no change in these, merely pumping more money will not make rail travel safer.

The Department Does Not Listen

For years, the suggestions that every coach must have a fire extinguisher (in SL too), engines must have fog lights (at least two accidents during every fog season), and that they must have helicopters at every zonal or even divisional HQ for quick relief during accidents, have fallen on deaf ears.

It is the height of callousness that the rescue team arrived at the Utkal train accident site on Saturday without a search light. They think it is cheaper to pay compensation than take better safety measures. After an accident on 13 February, a passenger had to walk 4 kilometres just to inform the authorities.

The Railways’ responsibility to transport passengers safely is now only a moral obligation. It must be made a legal one. Canadian railway safety management system regulations and their Safe and Accountable Rail Act ensures accountability are worthy of emulation.

Railway Safety is Not Rocket Science

An independent committee must be entrusted with the money and the plans to implement them. The Chief Vigilance Commissioner has said that corruption is on the rise in the Railways (4 August 2015 in the Times of India). This only goes on to show how far beyond accountability the railway bureaucracy actually is.

Efficiency has not increased even by one percent, as the Bibek Debroy Committee pointed out. Railway Safety Commission should be truly made independent by appointing engineers from outside the department. Although for namesake, this Safety Commission is attached to Civil Aviation Ministry, it is manned by Railway men on deputation.

Can you, trust them any longer? It is high time this monolithic structure is broken down to create five PSUs. They should have technocrats, industrialists, and financial analysts from outside on the Board which is now limited to employees. The self-serving, corrupt bureaucracy is the built-in danger.

Railway Authorities hint negligence caused UP train tragedy

Negligence at the local level appeared to have caused the derailment of Utkal Express in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, one of the deadliest train accidents in the recent times in which 22 people were killed and over 150 injured, 26 of them grievously, officials indicated on Sunday.

A probe has been ordered to ascertain the exact cause of Saturday’s derailment, with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu directing railway board chairman to fix responsibility on “prima facie evidence by the end of day”.

The train, which was on its way from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, had 23 coaches, of which 13 derailed, said Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi Division, R N Singh.

Six coaches of the train, which was running at a speed of over 100 kmph, were severely damaged, he added. One coach crashed into a house.

The railways have deployed high-tech cranes and scores of workers to clear the tracks near Khatauli.

Two 140-tonne cranes were being used since Sunday morning to clear the derailed coaches, from which survivors had been rescued and bodies pulled out.

Rescue operation by the National Disaster Response Force got over at around 3 am.

The death toll in the accident on Sunday went up to 22, with one more person identified as Sushil Kumar succumbing to his injuries in a hospital in Ghaziabad, according to District Magistrate of Muzaffarnagar G S Priydarshi. Of them, 15 bodies have been identified.

Principal Secretary (Information) to the UP government Awanish Kumar Awasthi said 156 people were injured in the derailment and many among them remain critical.

A preliminary probe has found that maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks which might have caused the derailment, said Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, at a news briefing in New Delhi.

The senior official, who rushed to the spot in Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh where the accident occurred, said he had seen maintenance tools on the tracks.

“Prime facie, it seems maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks…. Some maintenance work was going on, which might have caused the derailment of Utkal Express,” Jamshed said.

He said a probe would reveal if any maintenance work was being done on the tracks without permission.

“Prima facie, the information is that there is divisional responsibility involved if work was being done without seeking permission. By this evening we will know if any of our staff was responsible for this,” he said.

It was not “clear” what kind of work was going on at the site, the official said.

“However, any work on tracks has to follow a manual. We have maintenance manuals which lay down guidelines for work on any kind of railway infrastructure,” Jamshed said, adding the probe will reveal if the procedures were followed.

The probe, which will begin on Monday, will be conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Shailesh Kumar Pathak, who will look into “every angle, be it sabotage, technical lapse or manual fault”.

“There is some audio clip of some conversation that we will probe. Also, when we did the site inspection, we saw some equipment the railways use for track repair present there,” he said.

“Whenever this kind of a big accident happens, coaches get smashed, toppled, capsized and derailed. In this case, a 200-metre track has been damaged completely. It has to be investigated in detail. All measurements are being taken and every lapse is being taken into account,” Jamshed said.

The senior officer also said the Railway Police had lodged an FIR in the case at Khatauli under sections that included mischief causing destruction of railway property, causing death by negligence, causing grievous hurt, endangering life and personal safety.

Explaining the procedure for maintenance followed by the railways, Jamshed wondered if it was followed in this case.

“Fixed infrastructure on which the rail network runs like tracks, overhead equipment and signals are regularly maintained as per schedule. Maintenance of tracks is done during operations by blocking them as per requirement, according to fixed time and schedule. Written permission needs to be taken for this work,” he said.

He also said sometimes repair needs to be done on an emergency basis, but even then, if the next station is informed, the consequent trains are stopped.

“Then we get our supervisors on the track which is inspected and repaired after which the trains are allowed to run with a speed restriction. Red flags are also shown to trains in case there is a problem on the tracks,” he said.

He said it would be investigated if these protocols were followed this time.

23 killed, 40 injured as 14 Coaches of Utkal Express derail in UP – Terrorists’ Role Suspected


Utkal Express accident: Terrorists’ role suspected as an incident was also reported on the same route wherein miscreants pelted stones at Dehradun-Delhi Shatabdi Express near Khatauli Railway Station 5 hours before derailment of Utkal Express. In addition, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detected at Guwahati Railway Station on August 18, 2017 packed in bag, which was booked by Rail Mail Service. UP ATS rushed to spot. On being asked about the possibility of terrorist’s involvement, the CPRO of Northern Railways Neeraj Sharma said that the accident would be probed from all the angles.

Coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express after it derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.

MUZAFFARNAGAR: At least 23 passengers were killed and over 40 injured when 14 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday evening, the Uttar Pradesh police said. The casualty figure might go up.

Earlier, UP Principal secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar had said, “11 dead bodies and 65 injured have been brought to Khatauli hospital,”

The accident took place around 5.45 pm. Khatauli is around 40 km from Muzaffarnagar. Television visuals show that derailed bogies have crashed into a house.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry into the derailment. He said he was personally monitoring the situation and strict action will be taken in case of any lapse.

As many as 14 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed.

Prabhu later announced ex gratia of Rs 3.5 Lakh for those who lost their lives in the derailment, Rs 50,000 for seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for people with minor injuries.

In a series of tweets, Prabhu also said that Minister of State Manoj Sinha has rushed to the spot while the chairman of Railway Board and member traffic have been asked to oversee rescue and relief operations.

Two National Disaster Response Force teams, comprising 45 personnel each, and two canines have been mobilised to the accident site from their base in Ghaziabad. Medical vans have also been rushed to the site.

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‘All efforts being taken to ensure speedy relief and rescue operations,’ Prabhu said.

Five hours prior to the derailment at Khatauli, an incident was reported wherein some miscreants pelted stones at the Dehradun-Delhi Shatabdi Express near Muzaffarnagar railway station here, damaging some window panes. No one was injured in the incident which occurred after the train crossed the railway station, according to railway protection force. The police have registered a case against unidentified people.

Gathering of people near derailed Utkal Express site in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.

The Railway Ministry was also in close touch with the Uttar Pradesh government to coordinate rescue and relief operations.

In Lucknow, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said that top priority was being accorded to ensure prompt rescue and relief work.

He said teams of Provincial Armed Constabulary and NDRF have been rushed to the spot.

Since darkness was impeding rescue operations, he said the power department officials had been directed to ensure that there was no shortage of electricity.

Kumar also said IMA chapters in Meerut zone have been alerted and asked to ensure adequate and prompt medical care to the injured.

Kumar said a team of UP Anti-Terrorism Squad was also sent to the spot, though there is no confirmation of the terrorism angle.

Coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express train that derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar

Railways spokesperson Anil Saxena said at this stage, nothing can be said about the cause of the derailment.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath enquired about the accident and directed officials to take all possible action, an official spokesperson said.

Adityanath has directed two of his ministers to reach the site to expedite rescue and relief operations.

Adityanath directed senior ministers Suresh Rana and Satish Mahana to rush to the train accident site.

He also spoke with the Muzaffarnagar district magistrate and instructed him to ensure all possible relief to affected people, an official spokesperson said.

Hospitals have been instructed to provide free treatment to the injured passengers, the spokesperson said.

A coach of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express train after it derailed and crashed into a house in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.

He said four NDRF teams were also being rushed there — three from Ghaziabad and one from Delhi.

Besides, 35 ambulances, bread, butter, 1,000 food packets, additional private and state-run buses were being arranged, he said.

Volunteers were being mobilized from adjoining Meerut, the spokesperson said.

Medical colleges, district hospitals and large number of private hospitals were being prepared to receive patients, he said.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi expressed condolences over the loss of lives in the accident.

People resqueing the passengers trapped inside the mangled Coaches of the Utkal Express

‘Sad at train derailment in UP; my thoughts are with deceased and their families. Injured are being rescued and provided relief,’ President Kovind tweeted.

The PM said the railway ministry and the state government were doing everything possible and providing all assistance required.

He said the situation was being monitored very closely by the railways ministry.

‘Extremely pained by the derailment of the Utkal Express in Muzaffarnagar. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased,’ the prime minister tweeted. ‘I wish those injured a speedy recovery. The situation is being monitored very closely by the Railway Ministry,’ Modi said.

The railways and the UP government are ‘doing everything possible and providing all assistance required in the wake of the train derailment’, the PM added.

Reportedly, the UP Police suspect the role of terrorists behind the derailment of 6 coaches of Utkal Express near Khatauli in UP’s Muzaffarnagar district on Saturday.

The UP Anti-Terror Squad has been rushed to the accident spot to probe the terror angle.

On being asked by the media about the possibility of militant’s involvement, the CPRO of Northern Railways Neeraj Sharma said that the accident would be probed from all the angles.

On being asked by the media about the possibility of militant’s involvement, the CPRO of Northern Railways Neeraj Sharma said that the accident would be probed from all the angles.

Some media reports have also claimed that recently track repairing work was carried out where the Puri Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express derailed.

The reports claimed that after the repairing work, rail tracks were not properly filled with sand. However, the Northern Railways CPRO denied the reports of repairing work being done on the tracks. The train was coming from Puri and was going to Haridwar. It met with the accident around 6:45 pm.

Member of security forces moves a bag containing improvised explosive device (IDE) from arm of a bomb disposal robot to an explosion-proof tank outside a railway station in Guwahati on August 18, 2017. A potential accident was averted on Friday by local police after an IED packed in bag, which was booked by Rail Mail Service, was detected at the station, said local official.

 

SMS based Passenger Complaint & Suggestion System (SPCSS) for Indian Railways passengers

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways have introduced a System where one can complain from a running train.  The SMS about complaint will be acknowledged and attended.  Give the Train No., Bogie No., precise nature of complaint like no water in toilets, no lights, fans not working, security problem or whatever through SMS.  The Railway number to which one can SMS is 8121281212.  This will help someone in emergency.

OBJECTIVES

  1. To get complaints/suggestions from customers through SMS for aligning railway resources and priorities to customers’ aspirations and expectations.
  2. To reduce the gap between the customers’ expectations and railway’s performance.
  3. To help railways prioritize focus areas.
  4. To foster greater participation of customers in railway services.

SALIENT FEATURES

  1. Complaint/suggestion can be registered at 8121281212 by sending an SMS.
  2. In response, an automated acknowledgement with a unique ID will be sent as an SMS.
  3. With the unique ID, passenger can know the status of the complaint by sending SMS:- “STATUS < SPACE > < REFERENCE ID>” to 8121281212 or by logging on our website scr.indianrailways.gov.in/
  4. Final reply will be sent through an SMS and will also be available on website- www.scr.indianrailways.gov.in/

Railways’ Disaster Management Institute and Safety village to come up near Bengaluru

Railways to set up first disaster management village near Bengaluru. Overaged rolling stock to replicate train accidents to improve real time rescues. Centre to build capacities to Mount Real Time Rescue Operations and augment theoretical class room training.

BANGALORE: Trains falling into rivers and coaches catching fire will be common sights in the country’s first ‘Railways disaster management village’ expected to come up on the outskirts of Bengaluru by December next year.

A senior official of the railways ministry said “overaged rolling stock” will be used to replicate train accidents so that real time rescue operations could be carried out to improve such efforts.

“It will be just like the mock drills carried out by security personnel. It will be as real as it can get,” he said.

The railways has earmarked the 3.32-sq km village of Hejjala, with a resource of 3,483 people, to develop its Disaster Management Institute and Safety village at a cost of Rs 44.42 crore, according to the blueprint accessed by PTI.

“For augmenting theoretical class room training with practical hands on exercise, a real environment for training in various conditions and scenarios of train accidents, a concept of safety village was envisaged,” it said.

The focus is on imparting state of the art training on rescue, medical relief and rolling stock restoration techniques in a classroom and also using various simulated teaching aids. However, it is the practical reproduction of accidents on site and the ensuing rescue operations that are being touted as the big ticket venture.

“For the practical training as a part of the safety village tunnel, cutting, embankment, other conditions and obstructions like overhead structures and platforms are being created. For carrying out underwater rescue and relief operations, a water body is also being developed,” it said.

Overaged rolling stock such as coaches, wagons and locomotives would be stationed in the safety village along with various tools and equipment for imparting hands-on practical training, the concept note said.

The village, about 25 km from Bengaluru, will also have a virtual reality centre for analysis of railway accidents.

“The centre aims at providing training on dealing with various disasters under varied environment and terrain,” it said. The focus is on imparting state of the art training on rescue, medical relief and rolling stock restoration techniques in a classroom and also using various simulated teaching aids. However, it is the practical reproduction of accidents on site and the ensuing rescue operations that are being touted as the big ticket venture.

Construction work has begun and will be completed by December next year, it said.

Firozpur Division goes for Electric Lifting Barriers at Level Crossings

The electric lifting barriers are easy to operate as compared to the mechanical ones. Moreover, these require negligible manpower, are less time consuming and easy to maintain.

FIROZPUR: Started three years ago, the Indian Railways project to replace mechanical lifting barriers with electric ones at various levels crossings has taken shape with three out of the total 20 level crossings in Ludhiana acquiring the electrical system in the first phase. The work for replacing the remaining 17 barriers will commence as soon as the railway authorities receive the go ahead from the Centre.

The electric lifting barriers are easy to operate as compared to the mechanical ones. Moreover, these require negligible manpower, are less time consuming and easy to maintain.

“The work of replacing the lifting barriers was to be carried out in phases, said NK Verma, senior divisional signal and telecom engineer.

“In the Ferozepur railway division, around 350 level crossings have mechanical lifting barriers. Of these 38 were to be replaced in the first phase and three were from Ludhiana,” he added.

Anurag Srivastava, assistant divisional signal and telecom engineer (ADSTE) said, “The remaining 17 level crossings in Ludhiana will also get electric lifting barriers soon. We will start the work as we get a notification from the railway boards.”

“To set up an electrical system, we construct a separate cabin where we install the generator, which is attached to solar cells installed on the rooftop,” says Srivastava.

Eliminating unmanned gates

The railway authorities are also working at eliminating unmanned gates by installing Limited Height Subway (LHS).

In the Ferozepur railway division, under which the Ludhiana railways station falls, there are 1,002 level crossings, out of which 701 are manned level crossings and 301 are unmanned level crossings.

Limited height subways are 4X4 sq metre subways running below the tracks at the crossing point.

These have been known to bring down the number of accidents occurring due to unmanned railway crossings.

Divisional railway manager Vivek Kumar said that the work of phasing out unmanned gates is in process. Till date, 45 LHS have been installed in the Ferozpur division.

“By 2018, we will ensure that unmanned level crossings are phased out.”

How a mechanical lifting barrier works?

The mechanical lifting barrier system at the level crossing is installed at a cabin located close to the level crossing gate. The range of winch operation of lifting barrier from the point of operation is 150 metres. Winch operating system consists of a driving wheel and a lever. When a train has to pass from a level crossing, the gateman deputed at the level crossing receives a call from the station master’s office about 15 to 20 minutes before the train is to pass. After receiving the call, the gateman rotates the wheel to close the gate. While the gate is being closed, a siren is blown, to signal people to stop. In case the winch operating system does not work, the gateman rushes out from the cabin and pulls a long iron rod or ties a chain on the pole on both ends of the road to restrict the movement of road traffic.

How an electrical lifting barrier works?

The electrical lifting barrier comprises mainly of a control panel, a pedestal attached with a boom (barrier) and generator/batteries. After getting information from the station master’s office, the gateman just presses the button on the control panel and the gate closes and locks automatically. Another button is pressed to give a green signal to the train. A separate cabin is constructed for storing generator and batteries for the solar cells.

No signals on gate C-8 and C-9

A visit by the HT team revealed that there are no railways signals at gate C-8 and C-9, which are located in Thareeke and Jhande village respectively.

The gateman deployed at the spot said that since signals are not installed at these gates, they have come up with a temporary arrangement — a red cloth put up on two sticks on the railway lines.

“We remove the cloth only after we have locked the gates. Till the cloth is not removed, the train cannot pass,” the gateman said. He added that this temporary arrangement isn’t effective.

“Sometimes the cloth flies away due to the wind. Moreover, when any kind of problem occurs at the gate— like if a vehicle gets stuck in between the gates, we have no provision to give signal to the train driver,” he said.

ADSTE Anurag Srivastava said that the division is working to install the signals wherever it is required. “We have marked these two gates. The signals will be installed here soon,” he said.

Railways says no to exclusive Board member for Safety issues

NEW DELHI: The Railways has rejected a Parliamentary standing committee recommendation to include a member in the Railway Board exclusively to deal with safety- related issues of the national carrier.

In its reply, the railways has said the safety aspect is integral to the construction, certification, operation and maintenance of the railway system and each member is responsible for their respective departments like rolling stock, infrastructure, etc..

“Overall coordination is done by the Member (Traffic), Railway Board. Hence, the question of separate member for safety is not pertinent,” it said.

While making the recommendation, the committee had said having a nodal department for safety would help synchronise micro-level measures into a holistic macro-level railway operations, unaffected by inter-departmental differences on the issue.

The standing committee report, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha today, said “such an attitude reflects the ministry’s unwillingness to relinquish age-old practises and procedures.”

“The committee feels that the Member (Traffic) is fully engrossed with running of trains through the entire railway network in India and the related works on a daily basis. A separate member for safety would be able to exclusively focus on safety issues of railways,” the committee said.

It reiterated the ministry should review its stand on the matter and give serious consideration to “optimising the composition of the railway board”.

Repairing Rail Fractures: CR yet to get access to Track Safety details

According to the minutes of a meeting chaired by Sinha last year, the minister had called for TMS data to be shared. “The Minister had expressed that data of TMS is not confidential information and should be shared with Safety Directorate,” it reads.

MUMBAI: ONE YEAR after Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha directed that records on safety of railway tracks be shared with the Safety Directorate of the Railways, senior officials said they still did not possess these records, the absence of which was curtailing their ability to implement safety measures for possible rail fractures.

The details of the track management system (TMS) — a software that keeps a detailed record of the inspection of track and defects — are yet to be disclosed, according to the officials.

The software contains detailed information on the number of inspections undertaken, defects found, age of the track, maintenance schedule and every other detail pertaining to the railway tracks. The software is under the surveillance of civil engineers who disclose the details to officials when sought.

According to the minutes of a meeting chaired by Sinha last year, the minister had called for the TMS data to be shared. “The minister had expressed that the data of TMS is not confidential information and should be shared with the safety directorate,” it reads.

The officials said the lack of data was preventing the Central Railway (CR) from keeping a detailed record of the number of rail fractures witnessed. According to them, the data can give clarity on the steps to be taken to repair these fractures on the CR, which sees frequent track-related issues.

“At present, there is no transparency in reporting of fractures… Rail renewals are at a backlog and traffic blocks are not being made available. Unrestricted access of the data from TMS is thus a must,” said a senior railway official.

In CR, fleet supervisors who inspect the track keep a detailed record of the fractures and inspection details. While a number of fractures get reported, the Railways also witnesses cases of undetected fractures.

“For fractures that get detected, we are able to repair them before the trains passes over them. However, there exist cases where the fractures remain undetected. The technology in use to detect fractures thus fails to be of much use. We also face a lack of new rails to replace the old ones in time,” said another senior CR official who closely looks at track maintenance.

“Rail fractures in Mumbai division of CR are equally being caused due to trespassing. The movement of commuters on tracks loosens soil beneath the tracks. Regular inspections are under way to prevent such occurrences,” said Divisional Railway Manager, CR, Ravinder Goyal.

The CR witnessed at least five rail fractures in July, delaying services and causing bunching of trains.

NIA Chargesheet in Rail Accidents points to Pakistan’s ISI role – a plot bigger than expected on cards

The NIA has blamed ISI for roping in a Nepalese citizen to arrange for men to plant pressure cooker bombs on rail tracks to blow up passenger trains.

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed the first chargesheet in cases of alleged conspiracy behind rail accidents before a Patna court. Nine people, including two Nepalese citizens, have been charged with conspiracy to blow up rail tracks and a train near Bihar’s Ghorasahan railway station in October 2016.

The NIA is also investigating railway accidents near Kanpur and Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh last year that killed over 180 people. One of the accused in Bihar conspiracy had also owned up the Kanpur accident. His claim has not been corroborated with evidence yet.

The NIA has blamed ISI for roping in a Nepalese citizen to arrange for men to plant pressure cooker bombs on rail tracks to blow up passenger trains. The chargesheeted accused have been identified as Umashankar Patel, Gajendra Sharma, Rakesh Kumar Yadav, Ranjay Sah, Mukesh Yadav, Motilal Paswan and Arun Ram, Brij Kishore Giri and Samsul Hoda. Hoda, who along with Giri is from Nepal, has been identified as the main accused. He is alleged to have organised men in Bihar with Giri’s help to execute the attacks on ISI agent Mohammed Shafi Sheikh’s instructions.

NIA sources said that Hoda was in the business of providing manpower and had earlier worked in Malaysia. He later shifted to Dubai, where he came in touch with Sheikh. Hoda contacted Giri, who arranged for three Bihar men to allegedly execute the attack.

The chargesheet alleged that Hoda visited Pakistan in July 2016 along with Shafi. “The conspiracy hatched was to carry out IED explosions on railway tracks and bridges, to blow up passenger trains to cause loss to public life, disrupt essential lines of communication and to thereby cause threat to security and integrity of India.’’

The NIA said that six of the chargesheeted accused are in jail. Giri and Hoda are in custody in Nepal for their role in a murder. Ram was murdered in December. It was during the investigations into Ram’s murder that Bihar police stumbled upon the conspiracy and arrested two people, including Motilal Paswan who owned up the Kanpur accident.

Shafi Shaik by that time fled to Pakistan via. UAE and is expected to reside either in Karachi or Islamabad.

The chargesheet alleged that Hoda had transferred money into Giri’s account to allegedly recruit bomb-makers and planters and for arranging logistics. Giri allegedly recruited Sharma, Rakesh Yadav, Patel, Mukesh Yadav, Paswan, Sah and Ram to allegedly carry out terrorist acts.

The NIA alleged that the accused fabricated and planted another IED on a railway track near Adapur and Nakardei railway stations on December 3. An audio clip has been attached to the chargesheet. Giri is purportedly telling Patel in the clip that another group had been successful in its sabotage activity in Kanpur while he has failed to cause an accident despite placing bombs.

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Nearly 53 per cent Rail Accidents due to Derailments: MOSR

NEW DELHI: The government today said that of a total of 586 rail accidents in last five years, nearly 53 per cent were due to derailments.

Quoting a report by the NITI Ayog, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain informed Lok Sabha that in last five years (2012-13 to 2016-17) out of a total of 1,011 casualties, 347 occurred due to derailments, 67 in MLC accidents and 449 in UMLC accidents.

These together amounted to 85 per cent of the total casualties.

He said out of a total of 586 accidents, 308 were due to derailments, 21 occurred on Manned Level Crossings (MLCs) and 199 on Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs). They together accounted for 90 per cent of the total accidents.

The total number of those injured in the said period were 1,634. As many as 944 were injured in derailments, 58 in MLC accidents and 342 in UMLC accidents which amount to 82 per cent of those injured.

The minister also made a reference to the High Level Safety Review Committee (HLSRC) headed by Anil Kakodkar that had suggested various measures for improving rail safety, including setting up of a Railway Safety Authority (RSA).

“A majority of the practical measures suggested by the Kakodkar committee have been implemented. However, there is no decision to create a railway safety authority.

“An independent institution namely the Commission of Railway Safety already functions under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. It discharges the functions of review/approval of safety aspects in railways independently,” Gohain said.

ISRO-made Chip System to alert Users at unmanned Level Crossings

A hooter will be activated through the satellite chip, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), about 500 metres before unmanned level crossings. This will be of great help to passengers as currently train movements are tracked manually.

BANGALORE: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed a satellite-based chip systems to alert road users at unmanned level crossings about approaching trains and also help in tracking train movement on a real-time basis. About 500 metres before the level crossings, the hooter will be activated through the integrated circuit (IC) chip, warning road users as well as the train driver near the crossing.

The hooter will be louder as the level crossing nears, and finally it will be silent after the train passes by.

On a pilot basis, the Mumbai and Guwahati Rajdhani trains will be equipped with this system.

Road users will be warned by hooters once a train approaches an unmanned level crossing as railways are installing ISRO-developed integrated circuit (IC) chips on locomotives of trains.

There will be hooters at 20 unmanned level crossings on Rajdhani routes for Guwahati and Mumbai, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project.

More trains will be equipped with such technology in a phase-wise manner, according to the plan.

About 500 metres before the level crossings, the hooter will be activated through the IC chip, warning road users as well as the train driver near the crossing.

The hooter will be louder as the level crossing nears, and finally it will be silent after the train passes by.

Besides alerting road users, the satellite-based system will also be used for tracking trains for disseminating information about their movement on real time basis.

This will be of great help to passengers as currently train movements are tracked manually.

Safety at unmanned level crossings is a cause of serious concern for railways and the public transporter is exploring various ways to address the issue.

There are about 10,000 unmanned railway crossings in the country which account for around 40 per cent of accidents involving the railways.

While the Railways have eliminated 1,148 unmanned crossings in 2014-15 and 1,253 in 2015-16, it has scaled up its target and now plans to eliminate all such crossings in the next 2 to 3 years, the official said.

The satellite-based system will also help railways in mapping the area and the technology will come in handy at the time of accidents when it can be used to ascertain the exact location of trains and topography.

GM/SCR presents Safety Awards to Alert Staff

Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, GMSCR presented “Man of the Month” safety awards to K Prabhakar, Night Petrol Man, Secunderabad Division and P Ashok Kumar

SECUNDERABAD: Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway presented “Man of the Month” safety awards to K.Prabhakar, Night Petrol Man, Secunderabad Division and P.Ashok Kumar, Technician, Vijayawada Division for showing alertness in the duty and taking timely action to prevent unsafe conditions.

Vinod Kumar Yadav conducted a detailed review meeting on Safety and Punctuality of the zone today i.e., 3rd July, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad along with Principle Heads of Departments. Divisional Railway Manager’s (DRMs) of the Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Addl. Divisional Railway Managers(ADRMs) of Secunderabad, Hyderabad and Nanded Divisions participated through video conference.

The General Manager while reviewing the safety aspects of the Zone, called upon all the Zonal and Divisional officials to take proper advance measures to ensure the safety and prevent unsafe incidences. He also advised that all the loco drivers should be issued proper instructions related to visibility keeping the monsoon season in view, as part of ensuring safety at the Manned and Unmanned Level crossings.

Vinod Kumar Yadav discussing on the aspect of punctuality, instructed the DRMs to keep focus on Loco and Signal failures effecting the punctuality and make an action plan to improve the punctuality. He also stressed on the need to identify the root causes for asset failures and take corrective action and bring out System Improvements. While discussing on the speed restrictions he instructed the officials to review the position and remove the speed restrictions where ever possible to improve punctuality.

John Thomas, Addl.General Manger, S.N.Singh, Principal Chief Engineer; D.K. Singh, Chief Safety Officer; N. Madhusudana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan, FA & CAO; Arjun Mundia, Chief Mechanical Engineer; M.G.Sekharam, Chief Commercial Manager; A.A.Phadke, Chief Electrical Engineer; P.K.Sangewar, Controller of Stores; Dr. K.H.K.Dora, Chief Medical Director; Sanjay Sankrityayan, Chief Security Commissioner; B.Nagya, Chief Freight Traffic Manager, Smt.K.Padmaja, Chief Passenger Transport Manager were amongst the officials present.

Advanced Safety System on 3330 km to prevent Train Accidents

NEW DELHI: Train travel is set to become faster and safer in certain sections with Indian Railways introducing Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) on total 3330 km at an estimated cost of Rs 2000 crore.

The advanced accident prevention measure, under which trains will be in constant communication with the signals through sensors installed on the track side, will be implemented in two phases over the next three-four years.

A pilot project of the system was operationalised a few years ago in certain sections of the railways.

The TPWS, which also reduces delays during foggy weather, is a proven European train protection technology and deployed extensively on world railways.

With the Railways planning to go for semi high speed and high speed trains, there is a need to have automatic train controlling system.

TPWS has capability to control the speed of train in accordance with the sectional permitted speed and signal aspect ahead by automatic actuation of brakes, in case loco pilot fails to do so in time.

Thus it mitigates safety risk of accidents/collisions due to loco pilot’s error of signal passing at danger or over speeding, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved in the project.

It is important to see that when the line capacity is saturated and more trains are running, there is a proper and effective train control system, he said.

TPWS work has been sanctioned on 3330 route km on automatic signalling/high density routes.

Currently the work is underway for installing the advanced safety measure in two phases.

In the first phase, the implementation of TPWS works has been taken up on 1244 km route of automatic signalling sections with EMU services including Sealdah-Howrah-Khana section, Delhi-Panipat section, Howrah-Kharagpur section and Chennai Beach-Tambaram-Chengalpattu section.

In the second phase, the implementation of TPWS on 2086 km route has also been taken up on high density routes including Delhi-Ambala- Amritsar section, Ghaziabad-Tundla- Kanpur, Kanpur-Mughalsarai and Agra-Gwalior sections, Mumbai Central-Virar-Vadodara-Ahmedabad section and Arakkonam- Jolarpettai section.

The phase-I and phase-II are planned for implementation in next 3-4 years.

The requirement of enhanced safety for train operations has always been of paramount importance. With increasing speed and dense train traffic on the Indian Railway network, enhanced safety assumes greater significance, he said.

At present, TPWS has been operationalised in Chennai- Gummidipundi suburban section, Dum Dum-Kavi Subhash section of Kolkata Metro Railway, Hazrat Nizamuddin-Agra Section and Basin Bridge-Arrakonam Section.

Further, based on experience gained, it has been planned with priority for introduction of this technology on high density network, the official said.

Railway Board pulls up Zonal Railways for not providing key derailment details in time

NEW DELHI: Concerned over rise in train derailments, Railway Board has pulled up zonal railways for failing to provide complete information of derailments thus delaying evaluation in the matter and they have been directed to ensure complete reporting of facts related to accidents for further investigation.

In directions issued to all 17 zonal railways, board said that on one of the railways, an incident occurred in February this year involving derailment of a loaded goods train and only brief information about derailment was sent and details like track structure, feature of derailment, relevant site details and photograph were not sent even after 24 hours.

It further said that instructions already exist that any unusual accident shall be promptly reported for information of Member Engineering and in case of derailment involving passenger train, the information has to be given telephonically.

“Concerned zonal railway was also supposed to send appreciation report for every accident occurred on the Railway promptly. But in the above case, appreciation report was also not sent even after lapse of 36 hours of occurring of accident,” said the order issued.

According to board, the prime facie cause as rail fracture was received from safety directorate only, but no engineering officer from site bothered to inform about the same.

“This has been viewed very seriously by Member Engineering, Railway Board. It shall be appreciated that unless detailed information is available, it is not possible to evaluate the case, which is essentially required during discussion at Board level,” it said.

The ministry has now warned the zonal railways not to repeat such lapses and ensure that instructions on reporting are fully complied with and all relevant details including photographs of site are furnished promptly.

All zonal railways have also been called to put in place a mechanism for prompt reporting of complete details of accidents and unusual occurrences in their respective areas.

With rise in train accidents in last six months, Railways has come out with a checklist defining roles and duty of safety officers as it was found that important information post-accident needed for investigation was lost due to lack of knowledge by concerned officers.

Railways to explore modern tech to detect Rail fractures

New Delhi: Faced with increased number of derailments, the Indian Railways will explore possibilities of acquiring advanced system for rail fracture detection and track monitoring to enhance safety.

Aiming at augmenting the pace of modernized technological adaptations, the Research and Development Standards Organization (RDSO) of the Railways will hold a two-day global technology conference here next month.

With four lead thrust areas – safety, reliability, capacity enhancement and customer service, the meet beginning from May 3 envisages bringing in new perspectives and insights in planning for future rail transportation growth in the country and for assessing contemporary global technologies relevant to adoption.

Several experts from rail transportation development and allied technological industries, academia and research fraternity across the world are slated to deliver presentations and interact with experts of Indian Railways for identification of appropriate cutting edge technologies and systems available worldwide for adaptation.

Besides safety, the conference will also explore on capacity enhancement, congestion reduction and enhanced customer service.

Rajya Rani Express Derailment: GRP lodges FIR against Railway officials

Agencies bicker over Rajya Rani crash cause. After eight bogies of Lucknow-bound Rajya Rani Express derailed in Moradabad on Saturday, Railways rules out sabotage, UP ATS differs

LUCKNOW: Eight bogies of Lucknow-bound Rajya Rani Express derailed between Rampur and Mundapanda stations in Moradabad at 8.17 am on Saturday, apparently due to broken track.

The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) theory of sabotage in Saturday’s derailment of Lucknow bound Rajya Rani Express got credence on Sunday when Government Railway Police (GRP), Rampur lodged an FIR against unidentified Indian Railways’ officers and employees under Railways Act, 1989.

The FIR should cause embarrassment and worry also to Suresh Prabhu, Railway Minister, and also railway authorities. It is for the first time in recent years that an FIR was lodged against officers and employees of railways squarely holding them responsible for the derailment, in which many passengers were injured.

The GRP Rampur said in the FIR that when they reached the derailment site they saw that a part of the railway track was fractured. Many of the passengers, eye-witnesses and also the Uttar Pradesh ATS, which has been entrusted with the task of holding the inquiry by the Union minister, also corroborated same.

The FIR has been lodged against unidentified Raliways’ officers and employees under Sections 137, 287, 338, 427 and 154 of the Railways Act, 1989 and began the probe separately.

The FIR categorically holds the Railways responsible for the derailment of the train.

Though the Railways ruled out any sabotage or act of terror, the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which has been entrusted with the task of probing derailment is baffled by over a metre of uprooted track at the mishap site.

The Meerut-Lucknow 22454 was at a bridge over river Kosi, about 4 kms from Rampur and about 20 kms from Moradabad in Western UP, when the derailment happened. According to the police and Railways, 12 persons were injured, three of them critically. Eye-witness, however, claim that over 60 passengers sustained injuries.

UP Chief Minister Adityanath announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 to seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for other injured passengers. He also rushed his Cabinet colleague Baldev Aulkah to the spot to supervise relief work and ensure that injured were given proper treatment at Rampur and Moradabad hospitals.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted to institute an inquiry and rushed NDRF and Railways’ officers to the spot, one of the busiest rail route in the sector. After visiting the spot, a senior railway officer told that the derailment was due to cracks on welded track.

“The welding joining two tracks seems to have chipped out, breaking the track and resulting in derailment,” said the officer. The UP ATS, which also rushed a team, however, refused to believe the theory as over a metre of track was found uprooted at the spot.

“If the track’s welding had chipped off then how come over a metre track was found broken?” questions a senior ATS officer adding that they will “look into all aspects”.

A similar incident of broken track was reported from Agra two months earlier. One of the gangmen had seen the broken track and timely action by Railways had saved any derailment there. During the course of the inquiry, a few recent derailment incidents between Kanpur and Jhansi were suspected to be terror acts after the UP ATS arrested a few terrorists belonging to different modules.

The UP ATS has found two unidentified clamps a few metres away from the derailment spot and will send it for forensic examination. The ATS team is also seeking information from Railways’ engineering wing about the process of welding two tracks instead of adopting century-old nut and bolt system which is used world over.

Rajya Rani Express derailment: Railways hints at Sabotage

RAMPUR, MORADABAD DIVISION: Hinting at sabotage behind the Rajya Rani Express derailment, the Railways today said defects in the track could be due to “extraneous factors” as they could not develop suddenly.

A three-foot portion of the railway track was found missing, the police had said earlier.

“The track was tested on February 27 using ultrasonic flaw detectors (USFD) and no defect was found. So, the possibility of involvement of extraneous factors in causing damage to the track cannot be ruled out,” said a source in the railway ministry.

The next USFD test of the track is due on April 27 as the automatic test of railway tracks is done every two months.

Track fracture is either caused by poor maintenance or there can also be man-made factors which can be termed as “extraneous” or “sabotage”.

Besides, the source said, five trains had passed over the track prior to the ill-fated Rajya Rani Express and the loco pilots of those trains had not reported any unusual occurrence.

The real cause of the derailment will be known only after the completion of the inquiry, but there were indications towards sabotage, the source added.

Eight coaches of the Rajya Rani Express derailed near Rampur in the morning. The mishap occurred two kilometres from Rampur Junction railway station and about 100 metres from the Kosi river bridge, resulting in injuries to passengers and rail traffic disruption.

While according to Rampur police, 15 passengers were injured, three of them seriously, the railways claimed that only two passengers – Amit Katiyar and Megh Singh – were injured.

The railways has ordered an inquiry into the incident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 each for the injured passengers.

Eight rear coaches of the 22,454 Meerut City-Lucknow Rajya Rani Express derailed near Rampur on Moradabad- Shahjehanpur section of Moradabad division at 8.15 AM.

The spokesperson said the railways has been able to clear one line and the train operation on this line has started, whereas efforts are on to restore the affected line.

The Railways has announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 each for the two passengers who have received injuries in the incident.

The Accident Relief Train and Medical Relief Trains have reached on the spot for relief and first-aid work.

Pramod Kumar, the Divisional Railway Manager of Moradabad division, along with other senior railway officials, have reached the site to supervise the relief work.

The Railways have operationalised helplines at Lucknow, New Delhi, Old Delhi, Nizamuddin, Moradabad and Bareilly to help relatives of affected passengers.

Advanced Fire Detection system for Rajdhani, Humsafar and for the upcoming Tejas Express

Shaken from its slumber by a number of fire accidents on trains, railways will finally introduce an advanced multi-level fire detection and response system in premium trains like Rajdhani Express. In the last 30 years, around 500 people have died in fire-related accidents on trains and have left hundred others injured.

The railways is also planning to equip all air-conditioned coaches used for overnight journey with the early warning fire detection system, sources in railways said. The advanced fire detection system will also be installed in other superior trains like Humsafar and the upcoming Tejas Express.

Senior officials in railways said the national carrier is prioritising safety in train operations over everything else and the decision comes as a result of it. On December 28, 2013, an air-conditioned coach of the Bangaluru City-Hazur Sahib Nanded Express caught fire near Kothacheruvu in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh resulting in the death of at least 26 people and injuring 12 others.

With the advanced system, a train will stop in case of a fire incident as brakes will be applied automatically. If the smoke rises beyond a particular level, announcements will be made and hooter sirens will ring in the affected coaches. The announcement in the affected coaches would inform passengers that the brakes have been applied, and that they should not panic but disembark safely from the coach once the train comes to a complete stop. Besides, all power cars, pantry cars, locomotives of special services would also be equipped with high-pressure, water-mist fire suppression systems to protect the expensive equipment from being burnt in case of a fire.

Early warning of a fire event can prevent panic and loss of life and damage to assets, minimising disruption of services, a senior official said. In the present fire-detection system in trains, the response time is slow, pre-alarms are too late, detection rate in high airflow is poor, and performance gets affected by soot and dust.

In the advanced fire-detection equipment, the central monitoring system will be in the power car. The fire detection system will be connected to the central monitoring system where technical personnel will be stationed. The technical staff is required to investigate if there is actually a case of potential fire in that particular coach. An announcement followed by hooter takes place in the affected coach after a delay of 55 seconds.

A senior railway official explained that the display of the central monitoring system shows all the coaches with unique identification number on its screen along with the alarm status and graphical display of smoke level. In case the smoke level rises in a coach, the flasher light gets activated to alert the technical staff and indicates the coach number which may be affected.

If the smoke level rises further and reaches level 2, the flasher light gets activated in the affected coach and an audio visual alarm at the CMS prompts technical staff to take necessary action. If the smoke level rises further to level 3, the brake application takes place automatically.

Some Train Fire Accidents
  • December 28, 2013 – An air-conditioned coach of the Bangaluru City-Hazur Sahib Nanded express caught fire near Kothacheruvu in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh resulting in the death of at least 26 people and injuring 12 others
  • November 22, 2011 – Howrah – Dehradun Doon Express caught fire in which at least seven people were burnt to death and several others were injured. Around 2 am, coach number B1 of the Dehradun-bound train caught fire. Later, the fire spread to coach B2. Both coaches were badly burnt, but all the casualties were from B1.
  • August 1, 2008 – Gowthami Express supposedly got short-circuited and fire broke out in midnight when the train crossed Kesamudram station in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh. Those wakened by the sounds escaped by pulling the emergency chain to slow down the train, but 40 people lost their lives in this incident.

Multi-level Fire Alarm System in Rajdhani, Tejas

The Indian railways will install an advanced, multi-level fire detection and response system in premier trains like Rajdhani Expresses and the upcoming Tejas Express.

Once the system in installed, a train will stop in case of a fire incident as brakes will be applied automatically if the smoke rises beyond a certain level, followed by announcement and hooter sirens in the affected coach.

Enhancing safety in train operation, the railways will go ahead to equip all air-conditioned coaches used for overnight journey with the early warning fire detection system.

Besides, all power cars, pantry cars, locomotives of special services would also be equipped with high-pressure, water-mist fire suppression systems to protect the expensive equipment from being burnt in case of a fire, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Early warning of a fire event can prevent panic and loss of life and damage to assets, minimising disruption of services.

In conventional smoke detection system, the response time is slow, pre-alarms are too late, detection rate in high airflows is poor and performance gets affected by soot and dust.

The official said that all Humsafer trains are being equipped with the fire detection system. The central monitoring system will be in the power car.

The fire detection system in all coaches will be connected by hardwire to the central monitoring system in the power cars where technical personnel are present.

The display of the central monitoring system shows all the coaches with unique identification number on its screen, the alarm status and graphical display of smoke level.

The system is designed for multi-level alarm which is being programmed as per the requirements.

In case the smoke level rises in a coach, the flasher light gets activated at the CMS to alert the technical staff and indicates the coach number which may be affected. The technical staff is required to investigate if there is actually a case of potential fire in that particular coach.

If the smoke level rises further and reaches level 2, the flasher light gets activated in the affected coach and an audio visual alarm (hooter and flasher light) at the CMS prompts technical staff to take necessary action.

If the smoke level rises further to level 3, the brake application takes place automatically. An announcement followed by hooter takes place in the affected coach after a delay of 55 seconds.

The announcement in the affected coach informs the passenger of a potential case of fire in that coach and intimates them that the brakes have been applied, the train will come to a halt and the passengers should not panic and disembark safely from the coach once the train comes to a complete stop.

These systems will also be incorporated in the upcoming Tejas trains.

Maoists behind Kuneru rail accident in Andhra Pradesh, says NIA

VIJAYANAGARAM: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) suspects Maoists involvement in the Kuneru rail accident in Andhra Pradesh and an FIR has been registered in this regard. At least 34 passengers were killed and over 60 injured as the engine and nine coaches of the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh on 22 January. The Railways had suspected that tampering of the track near Kuneru station led to the derailment of the train.

“There is a strong indication of tampering with the track as the area is known to be a Naxal-prone zone and as Republic Day was approaching. Foul play cannot be ruled out,” sources had told PTI.

Meanwhile, Maoists early on Friday attacked a railway station in Odisha’s Rayagada district, triggered a blast and put up posters protesting against the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the state next month. The Maoists left behind handwritten posters opposing the policies of Narendra Modi government at the Centre and Naveen Patnaik regime in Odisha, officials said.

the FIR registered by the NIA on Kuneru incident said: “The Central government is of the opinion that the act of derailment is a suspected terrorist act by Left-wing extremists and is a scheduled offence under the NIA Act.”

The intelligence is not definitive as a senior NIA official said it was preliminary information and the probe was yet to be completed and they were exploring all angles. Since the area is close to the Maoist-affected zone, the suspicion of their involvement cannot be ruled out, an official told The Hindu.

One India reported that the NIA has booked a case against the Left-wing extremists under Section 150 of the Railways Act. A case under Sections 16 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act has also been booked. Kuneru, where the accident occurred is situated in Komrada Mandal of Vizianagaram district, 10 kilometres away from the Andhra-Odisha border.

Naxalites targeting trains is not something unknown. One India reported that in 2010, Naxalites had removed the fish plates on the track as a result of which a goods train crashed into the Gyaneshwari Express in which 100 people were killed. The incident took place near Jhargam in West Bengal.

According to One India, in another incident Naxalites in 2005 had looted a train in Kuneru. Three security personnel were killed in that incident before the Naxals looted Rs 15 lakh from a train.

The Hindu reported that based on Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh which alleges sabotage in at least six train accidents, three cases were transferred to the NIA. The report added that the other two cases being investigated for terror links are the Kanpur train accident when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed on 20 November, 2016, killing more than 140 people and the recovery of a pressure cooker bomb near the rail track at Ghorasan in Bihar on 1 October, 2016.

The possible reason for the Kanpur accident was earlier reported to be a rail fracture, but a recent report by Bihar police revealed a possible connection to Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI which made the derailment look like a terrorist attack. Even the Kuneru incident was suspected to the work of ISI until reports of involvement of Naxalites emerged.

MOS (Railways) give replies to Parliament Members on various issues raised of Railways

NEW DELHI: Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain gave written replies (Press releases) to various questions raised by the Members of Parliaments (Lok Sabha) requesting the information on various issues on 29.03.2017 (Wednesday). Details are:

Hydraulic Rescue Devices in Railways

Zonal Railways have been using Hydraulic Rescue Devices (HRDs), procured from foreign countries including Germany, at accident sites as a part of rescue efforts whenever needed. Available details of usage for the last 3 years are as below:

1.         Central                          04.05.2014
2.         North Eastern              30.09.2014
3.         Northern                      20.03.2015|
4.         South Central              24.08.2015
5.         North Central              20.11.2016
6.         East Coast                    22.01. 2017

The first hour from the time of accident is referred to as the “Golden Hour”. Rescue of passengers from the accident involved coaches within the Golden Hour depends on many factors, mainly reaching of HRD equipment to the accident site. After reaching the accident spot, Hydraulic Rescue Devices have been successful when used for rescue operation. The total time taken for such rescue operation by Hydraulic Rescue Devices has been varying depending upon the type of accident and site conditions. The competency/viability of these HRDs has been assessed during the past rescue operations. HRDs have performed successfully during rescue operations.

Measures Taken by Railways for Protection of Elephants

Indian Railway has developed the following process/steps/corrective measures for protection of elephants getting killed on railway tracks. Imposition of suitable speed restrictions in identified locations keeping the joint advisory of Ministry of Environment & Forest and Ministry of Railways and train operation requirements in consideration, provision of signage boards on identified corridors to alert the loco pilots, training programme to sensitise train crew and Station Masters on a regular basis, deputing of staff of Forest Department in the control office, need-based clearance of vegetation on the sides of the track within railway land, VHF communication links between forest officials and stations, construction of underpasses and ramp passes for the movement of elephants at identified locations, construction of girder bridges at the entrance of the deep cuttings to prevent elephants getting trapped, and provision of fencing at isolated locations etc.

Measures taken by Railways for Quality and Hygience of Catering Services

In its endeavour to provide quality and hygienic food to the passengers, Railways have developed and operationalized an institutionalized mechanism for monitoring of quality and hygiene of catering services through regular inspections at various levels to address catering complaints. Penal action is taken against the licensee depending upon the gravity of lapse, which inter-alia includes imposition of hefty fines and termination of contract.
A few complaints on cleanliness of coaches are received which are addressed by Railway. Further, cleaning of coaches including toilets is done at both ends in all trains. Following schemes are also provided for cleanliness of coaches:-

(i)     On Board Housekeeping Service (OBHS) has been provided in nearly 800 trains including Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto and other important long distance Mail/Express trains for cleaning of coach toilets, doorways, aisles & passenger compartments during the run of the trains. (ii) Clean My Coach Services is also provided in OBHS trains in which passenger may send a Short Message Service (SMS) on a specified Mobile number. OBHS staff travelling on the same train, contacts the passenger and carries out the cleaning work as per demand. (iii) Clean Train Station (CTS) scheme has also been prescribed for limited mechanized cleaning attention to identified trains including cleaning of toilets during their scheduled stoppages en-route at nominated stations. 39 Clean Train Stations are presently working.

The corrective measures taken/being taken to ensure hot and hygienic food is available to the passengers in trains and at stations, are as under:-

I.     Penal Action arising out of irregularities, complaints and inspections:-
(i)     Stringent action is taken by Railways and IRCTC against erring contractors. One contract has been terminated, one is under notice for termination while 16 contractors have been blacklisted for breach of terms of contracts in the last one year.
(ii)     A fine of Rs 1.8 crore (approximately) has been collected in 2108 cases in the last one year.

II.     Catering Complaint Monitoring & Redressal
(i)     Operation of Centralized Catering Service Monitoring Cell (CSMC) (toll free number 1800-111-321) for prompt redressal of passenger grievances relating to the catering and real time assistance to travelling public. This Cell gives real time assistance to 250-300 passengers per day.
(ii)     Inspections at various levels are conducted in trains and stations wherein feedback from passengers through surveys for enhanced satisfaction of the passengers is taken.
(iii)     A Twitter handle with the address @IRCATERING has also been made operational to cater to the complaints/suggestions with regard to catering services.
(iv)     Operation of All India Helpline (No.138) for rail-users to lodge complaints/ suggestions regarding food and catering services.

III.     Other significant initiatives
(i)     E-catering has been implemented at 357 A1 and A category stations for widening the range of options available to passengers for ordering fresh and hot food of their choice. Further proliferation at other major stations is being ensured.
(ii)     Empanelment of Self Help Groups (SHGs) to provide healthy, wholesome regional cuisine at an affordable cost to the travelling public through e-catering has been initiated and 9 SHGs have been empanelled at 10 stations.
(iii)     Introduction of ‘Ready to Eat’ (RTE) precooked food on trains has been mandated by Ministry of Railways through IRCTC to ensure supply of hot meals.

Measures to Ensure Jerk-Free Train Journey

It has been decided to replace the Centre Buffer Couplers (CBCs) of LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) type coaches fitted with Single pack draft gear or Floating plate draft gear with CBCs with Balanced draft gear to mitigate the jerks in the train ride. Sanction for the retrofitment of improved design CBCs with Balanced draft gear in 1350 LHB coaches is already available under Rolling Stock Programme (RSP) and provision of the same in 500 more LHB coaches has been sought under RSP 17-18 at a cost of ₹ 5 lac per coach. The approximate cost for this work in 1850 LHB coaches at a cost of ₹ 5 lac per coach would be ₹ 92.5 crore.  All new passenger coaches (Mainline) are being manufactured with CBCs with Balanced draft gear. It has been decided to proliferate coaches with CBCs with Balanced Draft Gear on Indian Railways irrespective of specific trains/routes.

Rail Coach Factories 

Presently three Rail Coach Factories, two Diesel Locomotive factories and an Electric Locomotive Factory are functioning in the country under Ministry of Railways. The number of coaches, diesel and electric engines built during the last two years in these factories are given below:-

Year Coaches Diesel Engines Electric Engines
2014-15 3314 355 250
2015-16 3978 341 280
Safety Measures taken on India Railways

Indian Railways accord highest priority to safety in train operations. Safety measures taken on Indian Railways is a continuous process which envisage accident prevention and mitigation directed towards continuous reduction in risk level to its customers. This is done by adopting new technologies and improvement in asset reliability to reduce human dependency. In the Budget 2017-18, setting up of a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) has been announced with a corpus of Rs1 lakh crore over a period of 5 years. A provision of Rs 20,000 crore has been made in Budget 2017-18 towards RRSK to fund essential safety works.

Railways have introduced new technologies such as Train Protection Warning System (TPWS)/ Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) as means of Automatic Train Protection on pilot section to prevent accident due to over speeding & passing signal at danger. Further the TPWS System is under implementation at 3330 RKMs section on Suburban/High-density Route. During 2017-18, work of TCAS System at 1427 RKM has also been sanctioned. Other Safety measures taken to prevent accidents include Vigilance Control Device (VCD) to check alertness of Loco Pilot, Electrical/Electronic Interlocking System with Centralized operations of points to eliminate human failure, Complete Track Circuiting, Axle Counter for Automatic Clearance of Block Section (BPAC), interlocking of manned Level Crossing gates and replacement of filament type signal with Light Emitting Diode (LED) Signals. Safety measures taken to improve safety of Railway Track include usage of prestressed concrete sleepers, 60 Kg, 90 or higher Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS) Rails, Long Rail Panels of 260m/130m length, provision of Thick Web Switches (TWS) for all important routes and Track Management System. It has also been decided to gradually phase out ICF Coaches and replace them by new design light weight modern technology Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) Coaches, introduce high capacity Centre Buffer Couplers (CBC) and Bogie Mounted Brake System (BMBS). Indian Railways is gradually moving towards automatic condition monitoring of Rolling Assets. As a part of this initiative, Railways are installing Wheel Impact Load Detectors (WILD), Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock System (OMRS) and Centralized Bearing Monitoring System (CBMS) in a phased manner.

Railways suffering losses in passenger sector every year, Lok Sabha was told

Railways is incurring losses on passenger operations every year, Lok Sabha was told today. Railways incurred losses of Rs 33,491 cr on passenger operations in 2014-15 while in 2015-16 the figure was Rs 35,918 cr, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said in the House.

He said the losses incurred on account of passenger fare are not separately maintained. In order to reduce the loss and earn profit, railways has evaluated various alternatives relating to rationalisation of passenger fare structure and it is an ongoing process.

Dynamic fare structure has been introduced in new trains such as Humsafar and Antodaya Express to increase earnings.

Flexi-fare scheme has also been introduced in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto train since September 9 last year. Besides Suvidha and special trains on special charges have been pressed into service to meet the surge in demand during peak seasons, holidays and festivals.

Western Railway conducts trials on newly converted 22-km-long Indore-Mhow rail line

INDORE: The railways on Saturday conducted a trial run on newly converted 22-km-long rail line between Indore and Dr. Ambedkar Nagar railway station. An electric locomotive left from Indore railway station at around 10.30 am and reached Ambedkar Nagar station at around 10.50 am.

Officials with Ratlam division of the Western railways said that the trial was successful and the track would be made open for train operations after safety inspection. “Commissioner of railway safety is scheduled to inspection the section and after clearance from him the track would be made open for electric trains,” they said.

The railways recently completed electrification work on the section and authorities focus is on developing 14-coach platforms at Ambedkar Nagar station into 24-coach-long platforms.

An official said, “Acquiring of land for extension of the platforms is in progress. The pressure of train traffic at Indore railway station is going to be reduced to a great extent in coming days.”

The railways have already approached Army in Mhow to acquire some of their land for extension of platforms at Ambedkar Nagar station. “A proposal has already been sent to zonal office for land acquisition. Like bartering system, we are planning to give up some of our land to the Army and in return we would acquire some of their land near the station,” said a senior official of Ratlam division.

Railways officials claimed that it will reduce waiting list status for long distance trains originating from Indore. “Once the extension work will get completed, we will be able to increase number of coaches of outstation trains. It would bring down the waiting list status at Indore railway station,” said an official.

ISI Agent Shafi Sheikh – prime suspect in major train attacks in India, flees to Pakistan from UAE

Shafi Sheikh, ISI Agent & Islamic Terrorist

NEW DELHI: Mohd. Shafi Sheikh, an ISI agent who played key role in mobilising people in Nepal and India to plant explosives on the railway tracks in Bihar last year, is said to have fled to Pakistan from Dubai, where he had been staying, a senior Home Ministry official said.

Before India and Nepal (where he is wanted in a double murder case) could request the UAE authorities to seek Sheikh’s custody, he had already left for Pakistan.

Sheikh has been on the radar of intelligence agencies for long and has also been accused of pumping in fake currency into India through Nepal from different entry points. He has been instrumental in polluting the minds of villagers in different methods and with fake currency notes, and instigated them in various means to commit crime by planting explosives on the railway tracks in India.

Nepal contact

Shamshul Hoda, a Nepalese businessman who first met the Pakistani national in Malaysia, then in Karachi and on several occasions in Dubai, told a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team, which interrogated him in Kathmandu last month, that the latter had asked him to “create mayhem” in India.

The Nepal police had arrested Hoda on his return from Dubai on February 2 for his alleged involvement in the murder of two people, who were initially hired to carry out “spectacular incidents in India.”

While Hoda confirmed that he had been asked by Sheikh to plant explosives at Ghorasan in Motihari, Bihar, on October 1 last year, he told the NIA team that he was unaware of any such plan with regard to the Kanpur and Kuneru railway derailments.

Karachi visit

Hoda has told the Nepal police that he went to Karachi seven months back on Sheikh’s invitation, where he allegedly met three other persons.

“Hoda told us that he was not sure about the association of Shafi [Sheikh] and three others with Pakistan’s ISI but he says he was asked to do something spectacular in India. He says he stayed in a bungalow at Karachi for two days, where he was treated well and asked to rope in his local contacts to create trouble in India,” a Nepal police official said.

The NIA was tasked with investigating the three railway accidents for any terror-related conspiracy after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu shot off a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh alleging “sabotage.”

Mr. Prabhu’s letter was sent after Moti Paswan, one of the three persons arrested by the Bihar police in January for his alleged involvement in planting a pressure cooker bomb at Ghorasan, claimed to have planted the bomb in Kanpur, which led to the derailment of the Indore-Patna Express on November 20, 2016.

However, when an NIA team quizzed him, Paswan said he was only boasting about his involvement. “Bihar police has told us that after Paswan, recently two more people arrested for other criminal offences confessed on their own to have committed the Kanpur accident; we are not sure about the claims and are investigating,” said a senior NIA official.

During an election rally in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh on February 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the Kanpur accident was “a conspiracy and conspirators carried it out sitting across the border.”

However, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament on Wednesday that “the Prime Minister did not directly mention ISI’s name in the Kanpur train derailment case” and investigations in three train accidents were yet to be completed by the NIA.

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Many Railway stations on Terror radar; one held in Begusarai

PATNA: Several railway stations, including Varanasi, Kanpur and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Chhapra and Gaya in Bihar, are on the target of terror outfits, police on Wednesday said following the recovery of three railways route maps from terror suspect arrested on Tuesday in Begusarai, around 125km from Patna.

Apart from Varanasi, which is also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, Kanpur, Lucknow, Gaya, Chhapra were marked with pencil on the railway route maps seized from Soni. Clippings of a Hindi vernacular daily of January 18 about East Champaran police suspecting track sabotage after the arrest of three criminals were also found from his possession. Four cellphones, seven sim cards, a fake Aadhaar card in his name and some other items were also seized from his room.

Police sources said Soni was arrested from Karor Khanjapur under Cheria Bariyarpur police station area of Begusarai district. “Soni started hurling abuses when he was smeared with colours by villagers on Holi night. Police took him for medical test, but no trace of alcohol was found in his blood. Even a day after, he remained aggressive after which his room was searched leading to the recovery of the maps and his arrest on Tuesday,” said a police officer.

Sources said Soni admitted his involvement in the Indore-Patna Express derailment near Kanpur on November 21 last year. At least 150 passengers had lost their lives in the accident. He also revealed the names of six other persons from Jaunpur and Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh for their involvement in Kanpur track sabotage.

“A three-member team of UP police anti-terrorism squad (ATS) reached Begusarai on Wednesday to interrogate the suspect,” Begusarai SP Ranjeet Kumar Mishra told.

Apart from UP ATS, a team of Bihar ATS, special branch and Intelligence Bureau officials are also quizzing the suspect.

Sources said Soni tried to mislead the police by saying that he is a native of Faizabad, but he belongs to Karakat in Jaunpur. “His grandmother and brother have been traced in Jaunpur. He has been living at his in-laws’ house in Begusarai since July last year. Villagers said his activities were suspicious,” a police source said.

When asked, a police officer said Soni did not reveal anything about Umashankar Patel, Motilal Paswan and Mukesh Yadav, who had been arrested by Motihari police for their involvement in the bomb blast on the track near Nakardei railway station and one such failed attempt near Ghorasahan station in East Champaran last year.

A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team investigating the recent railway track sabotage cases in India also reached Begusarai on Wednesday evening.

Gauge Conversion works on Podanur-Pollachi Section to be completed by March 31

Loco trial runs conducted on Pollachi-Kinathukkadavu section before CRS inspection scheduled on March 31
Loco trial run conducted on Pollachi – Kinathukkadavu section

COIMBATORE: The locomotive trial run of a diesel engine at 45 kmph on the newly converted broad gauge line between Pollachi and Kinathukkadadvu appears to be a gleam of hope for restoring a direct and shortest rail connectivity between the Southern and Western Tamil Nadu.

The construction wing officials of Southern Railway led by Deputy Chief Engineer R.Ramakrishnaa oversaw the trial run of the diesel locomotive covering the 21 km stretch in an approximate 30 to 40 minutes time. The trial run commenced at Pollachi at 1.10 p.m. and the locomotive reached Kinathukkadavu at 1.50 p.m. In the return direction, the locomotive started at 2.05 p.m. and reached Pollachi at 2.35 p.m.

At present, signalling works and track laying for 1.5 km stretch between Podanur and Kinathukkadavu are in progress.

Mr.Ramakrishnaa told that the pending works and fine tuning would be completed and the section would be ready for Commissioner Rail Safety (CRS) inspection by March 31. Once the CRS certified the track as safe and cleared it for passenger traffic, the Southern Railway could throw it open for cargo traffic first and then passenger traffic.

The previous meter gauge line was taken up for gauge conversion in 2009 and the services were suspended in phases from 2010.

Initially, fund allocation proved inadequate and then land acquisition related issues resulted in the gauge conversion getting slowed down.

Now, the works were nearing completion at an approximate cost of Rs. 320 crore, the officials said.

Restoration of the section would get Coimbatore region connected with Palani, Dindigul and Madurai and it would ease the present pressure on the Coimbatore – Tirupur – Erode and Karur sections.

Travel time to Madurai would also come down considerably, railway officials said.

8 injured in blast in Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train

ATS will probe Bhopal-Ujjain train explosion: MP CM Chouhan. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu to reach out to the blast victims.

BHOPAL: At least eight persons were today injured, two of them seriously, in a blast in the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train near Jabdi station in the district, a railway official said. The blast occurred in a general coach of the train between 9.30 AM and 10 AM when it was on its way to Ujjain from Bhopal, Railway PRO, Indore, Jitendra Kumar Jayant said.

A bomb disposal squad has reached the accident site, which is around 81 km from Bhopal, and is trying to ascertain the cause and the nature of the blast. “The ceiling of the coach was damaged in the blast but so far we have not found any explosive device or its remains from the spot,” Superintendent of Police, GRP Indore, Krishnaveni Desavatu told PTI.

“However, a suitcase was found in the coach and the bomb disposal squad is examining it,” he said. The PRO said that two coaches were damaged in the blast. They were separated from the train which later left for its onward journey. The two seriously injured persons were referred to a hospital in Bhopal.The others were undergoing treatment at a hospital in Kalapipal town, which is close to the accident site.

Additional Director General of Police, Ujjain, Madhu Kumar and senior officials of Ratlam railway division have rushed to the accident site. The exact cause of the blast will be known after examination of the affected coach, Kumar said. The glass panes of the windows in the general coach were shattered in the blast, which occurred when the train was about to reach Jabdi station.

The Jabdi station falls between Kalapipal and Sehore railway stations. Following the blast, the train came to a halt. Smoke engulfed the general coach, causing panic among the passengers who rushed out to save themselves. A relief train has been rushed to the mishap site, the PRO said. The Railways have made available helpline numbers for those seeking information about their relatives in the train.

The numbers are – Ujjain 0734-1072 and 0734-60906, Indore 0731-1072, 0731-2521044, 0731-2521045 and 0731-2521046, Ratlam 07412-1072, Nagda 07366-1072, Bhopal 0755-4001606 and 0755-56508 and Habibganj 0755-4001603 and 0755-55551.

Taking cognizance of the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train blast, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday said he is observing the situation personally, adding that an investigation has been initiated by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and forensic teams.

“The Superintendent of Police and collector are present at the spot. ATS and forensic teams are investigating under Director General (DG). I am also observing the situation personally,” Chouhan told. Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh Government announced Rs. 25,000 compensation to the injured and Rs. 50,000 to the critically injured persons.

At least nine people were injured after an explosion took place in Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train in Madhya Pradesh’s Shajapur district. As per the reports,the incident took place at around 9.45 a.m. Bhopal Division PRO, I.A. Siddiqui said that the injured passengers were admitted to a government hospital and a medical team is also sent to the location. Meanwhile, Indian Railways press representative Anil Saxena said that they are investigating the reason of the blast. “We are investigating the reason of the blast. Railway Protection Force (RPF) and forensic experts have reached on the spot,” Saxena told

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Ambitious technology upgrade plan of Railways aimed at providing enhanced passenger safety takes a hit

NEW DELHI: An ambitious technology upgrade plan of the Indian Railways aimed at providing enhanced passenger safety is threatening to go off-track on account of continuing upheaval in the Indian Railways Project Management Unit (IRPMU) – the agency that has been implementing the European technology, Train Protection Warning Systems (TPWS), on locomotives to prevent head-on collisions.

The IRPMU was renamed in June last year and work on TPWS execution was passed on to zonal general managers.

“Recent administrative changes such as the renaming of the IRPMU have been done to “cover up” the irregularities”, the Bharatiya Railway Mazdoor Sangha – labour wing of the RSS’s Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangha – alleged in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 9.

BRMS employees have threatened an indefinite fast from April to protest “deliberate attempts by the Railways Ministry to misguide the PMO by “keeping wrong doings at the organization under wraps”.

Despite several telephone calls and messages, director general (signals and telecommunications) Akhil Agarwal remained unavailable for comments.

As reported in May, irregularities in the functioning of the IRPMU – rechristened the National Capital Region Project Unit (NCRPU) –came to light following the December 2014 decision of the German KFW bank to discontinue its Euro 82.08 million (INR 440 crore) loan for executing the critical safety works including modernization of Signaling and Telecommunications (S&T) systems on India’s busiest train route from Ghaziabad to Kanpur.

Launched in 2003, the projected was scheduled for completion in 2009, but only 69% of sanctioned works have been completed so far.

In its report of November 2015, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) pointed to several transgressions such as poor progress of work, changes in contractual agreement and use of inferior material.

Surprisingly, the Railways – in its communication of 16 October 2016 – took the position that since the issue was being looked into by the C&AG, there was no need for an inquiry by either the Central Vigilance Commission or the Railway Vigilance.

“C&AG investigations are done with a focus on recommending corrective measures, while a probe into specific allegations of corrupt practices is done by the Railway Vigilance”, BRMS Delhi secretary Inderjeet Singh said.

DGP holds high-level meet to discuss Rail Sabotage incidents

NEW DELHI: A high-level co-ordination meeting chaired by Maharashtra Director General of Police, Satish Mathur was held here to discuss various security issues plaguing the Railways with focus on suspected rail sabotage incidents across the state, police officials said today.

The meeting was held yesterday at the DGP office and was attended by senior police officers from various districts, sleuths of the Anti-Terrorism Squad, Railway Police officers from neighbouring states, Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials, and Zonal officers of Railway administration as well as Mumbai Rail Vikas Nigam Corporation (MRVC) officials.

Five incidents of suspected rail sabotage were detected across the state in the last couple of months.

Deliberations were held on the ongoing investigation into these incidents besides suggestions to prevent them, a senior police official said.

Also, security issues like unauthorised gates, verification of antecedents of employees of contractual staff in Railways, inspection of railway bridges, tunnels and their repairs, track patrolling, removing of strewn rail pieces along railway tracks and implementation of integrated security system was discussed, the official added.

Suresh Prabhu bats for separate Forensic Sciences, DNA Fingerprinting Research & Analysis Lab for Indian Railways

Minister for Railways holds a video conference with the Director Generals and Commissioners of Police of all States/Union Territories. Suresh Prabhu eemphasizes the need for Sharing of Intelligence and urge for separate Forensic Science Lab for Indian Railways

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has advocated for creation of a dedicated Railway Forensic Sciences, DNA Fingerprinting Research & Analysis Lab for scientific analysis of Railway accidents and ascertaining the causes of train mishaps in the country.

In the light of repeated incidents of placing obstruction on tracks and attempts of cutting of tracks by miscreants, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has emphasised the need for effective coordination among various security and law enforcement agencies involved in passenger safety and security.

In a video conference meeting with Director Generals or Commissioners of Police of all states and Union Territories, Prabhu advocated the setting up of a separate Forensic Sciences & Research Lab.

Suresh Prabhu emphasized for extensive cooperation and coordination among various agencies sharing intelligence inputs to ensure safe train operations. The Forensic sciences establishment should have multiple teams from various establishments on deputation covering the operational, environmental, geological, mechanical, information technology, communications. The experts for setting up of Railways Forensics Lab should comprise of teams from different organisations like Railways, Home Affairs, Army, Intelligence, Information Technology, Police the State Government departments. He instructed the Director General (Railways) to also take the help of CERT-IN for setting up the Lab.

Prabhu suggested felicitation of security personnel for their outstanding job done to prevent sabotage.

During the video conference, Minister of State for Home Affiars Hansraj Gangaram Ahir was also present along with senior railway and RPF officials.

Ahir in his address shared his concern on recent criminal activities on Railways resulting in ghastly accidents involving heavy loss of lives and advised state police and all other agencies to be careful about the designs of anti-national elements.

He also asked the state police to provide full cooperation to Railways.

RPF DG SK Bhagat highlighted major incidents of sabotage during 2015 and 2016 and expressed concern over the sharp increase in such cases during 2017.

The first two months have witnessed close to 20 such cases this year.

Bhagat also mentioned that three cases have been entrusted to NIA for investigation and one has been referred to CBI.

Member Staff Railway Board Shri Pradeep Kumar also addressed the genuine concerns of the State Police/GRP pertaining to the Railways.

DG, RPF Shri S.K.Bhagat in his welcome address highlighted major incidents of sabotage that occurred during the year 2015 and 2016 and expressed his concern over the sharp increase in such cases during the year 2017. He also mentioned that three cases have been entrusted to NIA for investigation and one case has been referred to CBI for investigation. All the participants of States and UT shared their expectations from Railways and also gave valuable suggestions to improve safety and security of Railways.

During the video conference, Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Minister of State for Home Affairs was also present. apart from Member Staff Railway Board Shri Pradeep Kumar, Member Traffic Railway Board Shri Mohd. Jamshed, other Railway Board Members, other senior officials of Railway Board, senior officers from Ministry of Home Affairs, RPF & Police who took part in the meeting.

Speed Tests successful at 110 Kmph on newly laid Indore-Tihi BG Rail line on Ratlam Division: CRS

With the new railway line operational, transportation cost of Goods through Indore-Tihi line to come down drastically. Now, industries will be able to send goods directly from Pithampur to ports at comparatively lesser cost and duration.
First Pic: CRS smiling after arriving Ratlam with his CRS Inspection Special Train. Second Pic: CRS Inspection Train at a curve near Ratlam

INDORE: A train at a speed of 110km/hour on the tracks threw away dust making it look like a thick cloud of dust suspended in the air here.

It was a scene near Juni Indore on Monday evening when the railways conducted speed trial of a newly laid broad gauge rail line between Indore and Tihi to check performance of the track.

This new 23-km line between Indore and Tihi under Indore-Dahod rail line project is expected to be commissioned by the western railways in 15 days.

The Commissioner of Railways Safety (CRS) Sushil Chandra conducted trial on this newly converted track at a speed of 110km/hour.

Chandra is expected to give trial report by this week and he would also mention speed limits of the track.

After this the railway would issue an authorization and then the train would become commercially operational.

Authorities on Sunday also carried out a technical inspection of this track.

“The track is almost ready for operations of passenger trains, but a final decision in this regard will be taken up by the railway board,” said Chandra.

He further said the track has been developed in best manner, there were few shortcomings which will be rectified soon and then the track would be made open for train operations.

The CRS began his trial from Tihi railway station around 5.10 pm and concluded at Indore at 5.31pm. The train also had halts at Rau and Rajendra Nagar railway stations.

Transportation of goods through Indore-Tihi railway line to ports will cut transportation cost by 30 per cent and save about a week’s time of local industries, industrialists said.

Industrialists delighted by the commencement of operations on the new 23-km line between Indore and Tihi under Indore-Dahod rail line project, expect cargo movement to increase due to it.

Gautam Kothari, President, Pithampur Audhyogik Sangathan said, “Cargo movement from local industries will increase due to the Indore-Tihi rail line. Now, industries will be able to send goods directly from Pithampur to ports at comparatively lesser cost and duration.”

At present, industrialists of the region transport goods by road till Ratlam from where it is loaded on containers for Mumbai by rail route. The loading at Ratlam is done only twice in a week increasing the travelling time.

Industrialists said that the cost of transportation will reduce by 20 to 30 per cent as goods will be sent directly from Indore to desired ports avoiding multiple routes and loading charges.

Non-availability of racks at Ratlam leads to further transportation delay causing production loss.

Around 1.45 lakh containers are moved from the Indore region to various ports of the country in a year mostly by the railway route covering over 800 kms distance. Most of the consignments from Indore go through JNPT and Kandla port, industrialists said.

According to Pithampur Audhyogik Sangathan about one-third of the container traffic is handled by the Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) and the rest by private container operators.

Kothari said, “Along with cost benefit, damage of goods will also reduce in sending goods through multiple routes.”

Industrialists said that about 5 per cent of the goods get damaged due to multiple loading and unloading of goods at the source point and Ratlam.

Major train accident avoided as 44 Peddle Clips found open

SAHEBGANJ: A major train accident was averted in Jharkhand’s Sahebganj (Eastern Railway), as 44 peddles were found open near Balbanna village. The Railway administration was shocked with the scenario. The Investigation Bureau team along with Superintendent of Railway Police visited the spot and are currently probing the case. The bureau has termed it as extremely serious. An FIR has been registered and probe is going on in this regard.

Goods Train derails between Ravli-Kurla – Derailment comes a day after weekly maintenance

MUMBAI: Harbour line services were halted on the Central Railways line after three wagons and brake van of a goods train derailed between Ravli and Kurla here, on down harbour line early on Monday Morning. However, Suburban trains services are running between Kurla and Panvel without any disruption. Railway authorities are clearing the tracks to resume services on the suburban line. No causalities have been reported till now. Further details are awaited.

Three wagons and the brake van of a goods train derailed at Ravli Junction near Wadala station on the Harbour line before Monday dawn as it was crossing from the Mumbai Port Trust territory towards GTB Nagar station on Kurla-bound tracks. The derailment came a day after the regular weekly maintenance block between CST and Chunabhatti stations -covering the accident site -was taken on Sunday . The cause of the failure is suspected to be rail fracture, which can occur because of a maintenance problem, normal wear and tear, and extreme climatic conditions, said officials. “A high-level inquiry should be ordered. It should have members from the railway board. Accountability should be fixed in case the findings reveal negligence,“ said CR’s divisional rail user’s consultative committee member Jitesh Matalia.

The services were suspended from 4.10 am to 8.17 pm between CST and Kurla. Since Harbour doesn’t have a slow as well as a fast corridor, any block on its tracks mean the line is shut down. CR ran shuttle services between Kurla and Panvel, but they took inordinately long. “The trains were overcrowded and it was quite a task to get off at Kurla. It took me almost 1.15 hours to reach Kurla as against normal travel time of 30 minutes,“ said Belapur resident Sanjay Biswas. Asked why it took over 16 ho urs to restart services, an official explained: “The derailed wagons had to be emptied before they could be cleared. The brake-van was re-railed at 5.50 pm.Thereafter, the Over Head Equipment (OHE) wire had to restored before the route was declared fit to run regular services.“

The tracks too had to be checked and restored. The long suspension of normal services triggered chaos due to overcrowding at Kurla as CR had allowed Harbour line passengers to use main line trains to CST and vice-versa. CR had to deploy senior officials at Kurla along with a heavy contingent of Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel to ensure the overcrowding did not lead to stampede during the peak hours. “It took me almost 10 minutes to reach from the East side of the foot overbridge to the West side because of the crowds,“ said Kurla resident Sachin Rane. Panvel commuter Ashwini Patade said, “There was so much overcrowding that one commuter had to get off at Chembur as she felt short of breath due to lack of oxygen.“ Of the 75 lakh commuters in the city , nearly 1215 lakh travel by Harbour line, and the numbers have grown by 10% per annum.

Derailment of Coaches causes delay in Departure of Trains in Thiruvananthapuram Division

Four empty coaches of Kanniyakumari-Howrah Express derailed while being shunted at Nagercoil station on Friday night.

Following this, the train was rescheduled to depart at 12 noon on Saturday instead of the scheduled departure of 7.50 a.m., Kanniyakumari-Mumbai Jayanthi Janata Express at 10 a.m. instead of 6.40 a.m. and Nagercoil-Coimbatore Passenger at 2 p.m. instead of 7.15 a.m. Chennai-bound Guruvayoor Express skipped Nagercoil Junction and was operated via Nagercoil Town station. The Kanniyakumari Express from Chennai arrived at 7.40 a.m. instead of 6.30 a.m. Similarly, Ananthapuri Express proceeding to Thiruvananthapuram also reached Nagercoil an hour behind schedule.

The derailed coaches were put back on the tracks by 4 a.m. on Saturday. Two cranes from Thiruvananthapuram were brought for the purpose.

Kanniyakumari District Rail Users Association president S.R. Sreeram said that lack of proper maintenance of tracks and inadequate ballast caused frequent derailments in this section.

As Kanniyakumari station lacked even basic facilities, rakes of all terminating trains were brought back to Nagercoil for maintenance. Kanniyakumari should be made a railway terminal with all facilities, including full-fledged watering, cleaning, mechanical and electrical maintenance. If these facilities were there, many problems could be solved, Mr. Sreeram said.

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Narrow Gauge Train escapes Sabotage bid on Gwalior-Sheopur line

Miscreants had placed around 70 Stone Slabs on the two-foot-wide tracks continuously for 3km distance, jeopardising the lives of hundreds of passengers.

BHOPAL: Sabotage attempts continue to plague the world’s longest narrow gauge tracks — the 202km Gwalior-Sheopur line that dates back to 1895. The latest derailment bid was foiled by the alertness of the motorman on Wednesday night.

Miscreants had placed around 70 stone slabs on the two-foot-wide tracks, jeopardising the lives of hundreds of passengers, said officials. As it is the only railway link for towns between these two districts, nearly 1,000 passengers pile on these trains every day, some travelling dangerously on the roof.

The train was heading towards Gwalior from Sumawali when loco pilot Rajesh Jain spotted large stones on the tracks. He pulled the emergency brakes and the train stopped less than 10 feet from the stones. The obstruction was removed and the train continued but only 300 metres down the line, Jain saw another large stone. Since he was going slow, he was able to stop well in time. This blockade was cleared with the help of passengers. But the ordeal continued. They found 68 more slabs in the next 3km.

Speed was reduced to 10kmph and it took nearly two hours to cover just 3km, sources said. The train had left Sumawali at 6.32pm and reached Gwalior at 9pm where the matter was reported. Investigations are underway to identify and arrest those involved, say sources. This is not the first time attempt to derail a train on this line, say sources.

The heritage track, once known as Gwalior Light Railway (GLR) or ‘Maharaja Railways of India’, is now part of North Central Railway (NCR). The railways wants to replace the narrow gauge tracks with broad gauge because of “undue expenditure”. A proposal of Rs 1,500 crore for this is pending with the Centre, sources said.

Established by Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia II, construction started in 1895 and was completed in 1909. The route connects 28 small towns between Gwalior and Sheopur. In 2009, the Centre had proposed that the tracks be included in UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.

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Key accused in Kanpur and Ghorasahan rail track sabotage incidents surrenders in Court

Bhojpuri film men, lured by ISI, arrested for plotting train derailment in Bihar

PATNA: One of the key accused in Kanpur and Ghorasahan rail track sabotage incidents, Gajendra Sharma, surrendered before a court in East Champaran district on Monday. Police sources said Gajendra, a named accused in Ghorasahan blast attempt case, was also involved in the derailment of Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur in which at least 150 people were killed on November 21 last year.  The investigation from NIA has thrown up at least three key links to the regional film industry. Dream merchants from India’s eastern heartland and Nepal have helped Pakistan’s spy agency ISI in its attempts to stage nightmarish train derailments so they could get their Bhojpuri movie projects on track.

Police also arrested two more persons – Deepu Kumar and Suraj Kumar – from Chhoradano in East Champaran district for their alleged involvement in Nakardei rail track blast on December 3. The alleged involvement of Pakistan’s ISI in Nakardei rail track blast came to light after the arrest of Shamshul Huda, an ISI agent, from Kathmandu in Nepal.

The Bihar police had dismissed the incident as ‘rumour’ and did not even register FIR against anyone.

Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the rail track sabotages on Tuesday secured additional four-day police remand of Umashankar Patel, Motilal Paswan and Mukesh Yadav, all accused in Ghorasahan and Kanpur cases. Earlier, the special NIA court of judge Manoj Singh had granted 11-day police remand for the trio on February 4.

The derailment and blast conspiracies were allegedly hatched by ISI of Pakistan. ISI agent Shamshul Huda, a Nepalese citizen, was handling the terror mission from Dubai. Huda was arrested by Nepal police in Kathmandu on February 5. His interrogation later revealed another railway track blast near Nakardei in East Champaran.

Mujahir Ansari, Brajkishore Giri alias Baba Giri, Ashish Singh Kurmi alias Sujeet and Umesh Giri, all associates of Huda, have already been arrested by Nepal police.

Bhojpuri film men, lured by ISI, arrested for plotting train derailment in Bihar

The National Investigation Agency’s probe into the Ghorasan incident from Bihar in which an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was found near a railway track on October 1 has thrown up at least three key links to the regional film industry.

The first is Brajkishore Giri, an actor who also owns the Big Bollywood studio in Nepal’s Beergiri area. Another name is of Gajendra Sharma, proprietor of the Dangal Studio in Bihar’s Motihari city who also ran an orchestra for weddings and other events. The third is Mukesh Yadav, a Bhojpuri songwriter.

All three were allegedly lured by the money ISI promised in return for derailing Indian trains.

All the accused have landed in the police net in Nepal and India. According to NIA sources, acting on behest of Sheikh Shafi, a Pakistan-based ISI handler, Shamshul Hoda, who’s a Nepalese citizen, was tasked with hiring Indian men to carry out train derailments. Hoda is known to have contacted Brajkishore Giri, a man with ambitions who was bitten by the Bhojpuri movie bug.

Over 150 people died on November 21 when the Indore-Patna Express flew off the tracks. A month later, 50 people were injured when the Ajmer-Sealdah Express derailed. Both incidents took place near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Authorities are probing the possibility of sabotage in these and a clutch of other train crashes in the past six months.

Already having acted in Bhojpuri films such as Raftar, Brajkishore Giri was working in an underproduction project Ae Moray Jaan Tohray Mein Bas Le Hamray Pran when he was arrested by Nepal Police. After being approached by Hoda, Giri used his Bhojpuri movie contacts to rope in Gajendra Sharma and Mukesh Yadav.

Brajkishore Giri was baited with money amounting to several lakhs, which he wanted to pump into the film business to fulfil his “own dream of producing a Bhojpuri movie”. The agency is also probing a fake Indian currency racket linked to the ISI conspiracy.

Giri contacted Gajendra Sharma, who also made low-budget movies in Motihari. The third among the Bhojpuri movie trio is Mukesh Yadav, one of the first arrests made in the case by Bihar Police. He is a songwriter.

Gajendra, whose music studio was leaking money, allegedly conspired with Giri. But with Gajendra’s surrender in Motihari, Bihar, the NIA is hoping to complete the jigsaw puzzle in the ISI-hatched plot.

Three people – Moti Paswan, Uma Shankar and Mukesh Yadav – were arrested last month from Bihar’s East Champaran district and they reportedly pointed to ISI’s role in the Indore-Patna Express derailment. Sources said on the instructions of ISI handler Shafi, Hoda hired Arun and Deepak, two of Mukesh Yadav’s links, who were tasked to derail a train in Ghorasan.

“However, the duo developed cold feet,” said sources.

“The powerful IED was later discovered by children playing near the rail track.

The authorities were informed and the bomb exploded while it was being taken aside, though no one was injured. With the use of sulphur and ammonium nitrate, a cocktail of explosives was prepared, but the plan of ISI failed with the discovery of the bomb.”

Arun and Deepak were called to Nepal where they were allegedly eliminated by the ISI. Sources say that songwriter Mukesh was also called to that country, but he survived because he did not show up.

They added that a team will soon go to Nepal to question Hoda and Giri. They will also examine the funding in the case, which is suspected to be in fake Indian currency.

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Sabotages – miscreants cut rail track near Chandausi on NR; Goods train on Konkan hits Fishplate placed on tracks

Sabotage attempts continue to mar Indian Railways. The two incidents in the last 24 hours – one on Konkan Railway and the other on the Moradabad Division of Northern Railway throw Railway officials into tizzy.

MUMBAI: In yet another instance of mischief or sabotage, a fish-plate (equipment that joins two sets of tracks) was kept on the tracks between Rajapur and Vaibhavwadi on Konkan Railway. A goods train going from Mumbai to Madgaon in Goa passing on the tracks at around 3:15 pm hit the fish-plate but fortunately did not derail. The loco pilot of the train lodged an FIR with the local police. Senior officials are monitoring the situation.

Incidentally, Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu travelled on the Konkan Kanya to Ratnagiri on the same tracks later in the evening.

Cut in track detected near Chandausi Railway station

A possible rail mishap was today averted after a cut in a track was detected between Chandausi and Moradabad railway sections in the district, in yet another incident of track damage.

The 32 mm cut in track was detected at 3:15 AM near Mohammadganj village following which senior officers were informed. An alert Railway Gangman on patrolling duty informed rail authorities about an attempt by miscreants to cut tracks between Chandausi-Bahjoi. Police and GRP have launched a probe into the incident.

Equipment used to cut it was also found near the track.

Senior officers and forensic teams have reached the spot and are probing the matter.

“At 06:45 am, keyman Soomveer of Gate No 1 reported attempt to cut rail by miscreants at km 72/4-5 in block section Chandausi-Bahjoi,” a railway official said.

Kankavali police registered a case against unidentified persons for causing danger to the railway passenger’s as well as train’s safety.

On February 9, four gelatin sticks were found on the railway tracks near Taloja in Navi Mumbai, but police said it looked like act of mischief rather than sabotage attempt.

A day before, discarded overhead equipment was spotted lying on the rail lines in Raigad district in Konkan.

On January 24, a seven-metre-long rail piece was found on the tracks near Diva station near Mumbai. The alert driver of Madgaon-Dadar Janshatabdi Express averted a mishap by applying the emergency brakes. On February 6, a huge piece of rail rod was found on the tracks between Kalamboli and Taloja stations at Navi Mumbai in Raigad district.

The incident comes just a couple of days after a key suspect in the Kanpur train derailment was arrested from Kathmandu after being deported from Dubai. A special team of Nepal police arrested ISI agent Samshul Hoda along with three others at the Tribhuvan International Airport on February 7.

Over 140 people were killed and dozens other injured when Indore-Patna Express derailed near Kanput on November 20, 2016. A month later, fifteen bogies of Sealdah-Ajmer Express derailed near Rura in Kanpur injuring over 40.

Earlier on February 9, an attempt was made to damage a railway track on Chandausi-Aligarh route near Chandausi railway station here.

On a tip off, police had detected equipment near track and on inspection found that attempts were made to damage the track.

There has been a spurt in incidents of damage to track in the country this year.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had told Lok Sabha recently that there had been seven “blast attempts” and three cases of attempted sabotage of rail tracks.

“There have been unusual activities in the last few days and some incidents were averted due to the alertness of railway personnel,” the Minister had said.

Railways have cited “outside interference” as the possible reason of derailment in more than 40 such cases this year.

Citing some recent incidents, a railway official had said “outside interference was found” in some cases near Kanpur, Mumbai, Hajipur and other areas where fish plates were removed and a large rail piece was placed on the track.

The recent rail accidents in Uttar Pradesh, which is scheduled to vote for Assembly election in seven phases starting February 11, have the security agencies working over time to safeguard tracks and other important rail installations. Investigations have pointed towards involvement of foreign terror groups.

The Railways was now in the process of putting in place latest technology like ultrasonic track detection system to find out fractures so that early warning can prevent mishaps.

Besides technology, Prabhu has said the Railway Protection Force has been asked to evolve a forensic strategy.

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Scientists develop App that measures Quality of Railway Ride; records Vibration Data

Scientists have developed a new App that can allow railway passengers to measure ride comfort using their smartphones, and record vibration data from a running train to detect track faults and indicate which sections are in need of maintenance. Information collected by the app would give railway companies instant feedback from passengers about bumps, bangs and vibration on their trains, said researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

The study is the first to use artificial neural networks to map data gathered from smartphones in order to evaluate ride quality. It showed that accelerometers found in modern smartphones are good enough to be used in measuring ride comfort. “Making passengers feel comfortable aboard their trains is something many railway companies strive to do. With the advent of smartphones, passengers can potentially measure the ride comfort themselves,” Sakdirat Kaewunruen, senior lecturer at University of Birmingham.

“Our research opens the door for many opportunities, allowing passengers to provide instant feedback on the comfort of their journey and equipping railway companies with information they can use to further improve ride comfort for passengers,” said Kaewunruen. “There is also potential for this technology to be used to detect track faults and indicate which sections of track are in need of maintenance, possibly saving on maintenance costs and improving the safety of the railway,” Kaewunruen added.

Researchers used a specially designed smartphone app to record vibration data from a train running on a test track, comparing the information gathered to a reference accelerometer. They discovered that the technology used in modern smartphones is more than good enough to measure ride comfort aboard trains. They noted that mobile technology develops at a high rate and future smartphones would have higher quality accelerometers than those used in the experiment.

Vibrations in trains can be caused by welding and rolling defects, rail joints, poor track alignments, and various defects or roughness in the track or wheel surfaces. The types of vibrations experienced on board trains are different from the ones experienced in road vehicles. “The greatest challenge in using this type of technology is to persuade passengers themselves to implement it in their daily lives, but there are a number of ways around this issue,” said Adam Azzoug from University of Birmingham.

“For example, rail companies might make it easier for passengers to use the app by linking it to Wi-Fi access on their trains or allowing passengers to give feedback on subjective causes of discomfort in trains such as smells and temperature,” said Azzoug. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Built Environment.

Mangaluru-Shoranur Electrified Railway Line awaits Safety Clearance

A view of the electrified double line near Uchchila off Mangaluru.

MANGALURU: Passengers can expect smoother train journey from Mangaluru Central towards Kerala after March this year as Southern Railway is all set to commission the 328-km Shoranur-Mangaluru electric line.

Once the Commissioner of Railway Safety inspects the line and authorizes Southern Railway to operate passenger trains on the network, electric locos (engines) would haul trains instead of the diesel ones.

Yet, there would be two constraints, said Naresh Lalwani, Divisional Railway Manager of Southern Railway’s Palakkad Division. The first is the commissioning of an electric substation at Chervathur, 89 km from Mangaluru, and the second: availability of electric locos. The Southern Railway headquarters has asked the Railway Board to provide 17 electric locos, which are yet to arrive, he told.

The initial plan, after all conditions are met, is to run passenger trains originating from and terminating at Mangaluru Central Station towards the South. If all the trains on the section up to Mangaluru Junction are to be hauled by electric locos, another 10 locos are needed, he said.

He said that the lines beyond Mangaluru Junction, either towards Mumbai or Hassan, are not electrified and hence, electric locos need not be deployed for passing-by trains, Mr. Lalwani said.

On its part, the Central Organisation of Railway Electrification, Allahabad, is gearing up for the inspection.

Its Chief Project Officer at Chennai office Rajendra Prasad said that the Central Organisation of Railway Electrification would request the Commissioner of Railway Safety to conduct the inspection in the first week of March.

The cost of the project (Shoranur-Mangaluru-Panambur) is about Rs. 302 crore [calculated at rates prevailing in 2010]. Mr. Lalwani said that some passenger trains run on electric traction up to Kannur from Shoranur while some goods trains are hauled by electric locos up to Chervathur at present.

Complete electrification would eliminate change of locos and the crew at Shoranur thereby saving time.

The speed could also increase even as there would be lesser wear and tear of the engine. One can expect trains running at enhanced speed and reduced time after the next timetable (October 2017), Mr. Lalwani said.

Two more electric substations are to come up in Ullal and Jokatte in Dakshina Kannada.

However, they would be required when all the trains on the section are operated on electric traction, he said.

GM/SCR asks Top Officials to involve in Safety Inspections, call for immediate Remedial Actions in Safety Tasks

SECUNDERABAD: Safety is a continuous process and complacency is not acceptable said Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway. He was addressing a Video Conference of Divisional Railway Manager’s of all six Divisions i.e. Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded from Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad today i.e. 13th February 2017. Principal Heads of Departments were also present in the meeting.

The General Manager in his address called upon all the Zonal and Divisional officials to regularly involve in safety inspections and ambush checks. Officials should adhere to safety norms while doing inspections said the General Manager and asked them to record even the minute details in the safety report with proper remedies for the same. To ensure safety carryout system improvements too wherever applicable he added.

Vinod Kumar Yadav stated that all measures should be taken to ensure safety and punctuality in train movements for the entire Zone. He stressed upon the need to reduce rail fractures, weld failures and other unsafe features at level crossings as part of ensuring safety. He informed the officials to check the feasibility of eliminating all unmanned level crossings by constructing Road under Bridges etc.

D.K. Singh, Chief Safety Officer made a Power Point Presentation of Safety position on the Zone. S.N. Singh, Principal Chief Engineer; N. Madhusudana Rao, Chief Operations Manager; P. Ganeswara Rao, Chief Commercial Manager; Smt. Padmini Radhakrishnan, FA & CAO; M.S. Mahaboob Ali, Chief Signal & Telecommunications Engineer; Arjun Mundiya, Chief Mechanical Engineer; N.V. Ramana Reddy, Chief Personnel Officer were amongst the officials present.

Soon, a Mobile Game that teaches Railway Commuters not to Trespass railway areas

People will be able to download the game on their phones by June. Also, Railways to launch safety app for women passengers

MUMBAI: To prevent accidents on the suburban railway tracks, the Western Railway (WR) will launch a five-month long anti-trespassing campaign from February 16.

To create awareness among young commuters, especially students, the railway plans to launch a game, which people will be able to download on their phones by June.

In the game, players following rules at suburban stations — such as taking authorised entries and exits, using foot-over bridges and escalators and not alighting from running trains — will be awarded points. Points will be deducted if players flout norms.

Trespassing has long been a serious concern for the railways, with a recent comptroller and auditor general (CAG) report stating that 19,868 (59%) of the 33,445 deaths on suburban section occurred owing to line crossing or trespassing on the tracks.

The railway plans to implement infrastructure to reduce trespassing. However, commuters criticised the move, saying more serious measures were required. “This is not child’s play. The lives of commuters are at stake. The railways should construct more foot-over bridges and prioritise the installation of more escalators if they want to reduce trespassing,” said Rohit Das, Borivli resident.

Indian Railways to launch safety app for women passengers

To curb crimes against women travellers, Railways on 3 November said an all-India mobile application service will be launched through which immediate help from the Railway Protection Force could be availed.

“Some zonal railways such as Western Railway have launched mobile application for providing security to women passengers besides installing CCTV in trains,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said at the RPF Investiture Parade ceremony in New Delhi.

The app, a security and safety measure, is being developed in coordination with RPF.

Since railways is the soft target from unscrupulous elements and divisive forces, there will be a strategic cell for RPF to tackle the growing threat from such elements, a senior official said.

“In order to assess the threat perception, RPF needs a strategic cell. We need a change in the system and for this adequate funds will be provided to RPF,” Prabhu said.

Focusing the need for technology upgradation, he said, “sometime there are attempts to obstruct the economic development by obstructing the rail movement. There is a requirement for technology upgradation and training of RPF personnel to prevent such incidents.”

Dwelling on the menace of without ticket travel in trains, Prabhu said, “there will be a massive drive against the without ticket travellers. A drive has already been launched against the touts involved in cornering tickets in illegal way.”

Stressing the need for coordination with the state police, Railway Minister said he has written letters to all Chief Ministers requesting cooperation from states on the subject.

“RPF along with GRP will also work to prevent theft in railways and there is a need for coordination with the state police to prevent theft in railways. I have written to all CMs for better coordination with the state police to check crime in trains effectively. There is a requirement of seamless policing for effective control of crime,” he said.

Nelamangala-Shravanabelagola Railway Line to be operational Feb-end

CRS line inspection between Nelamangala, Shravanabelagola ends. The track inspection on the Bengaluru-Kunigal-Shravanabelagola rail line, which connects Bengaluru and Mangaluru, was completed on Monday. If all goes as per plan, the route will become operational by the end of February or the first week of March.

BANGALORE: The inspection of the 110-km railway line between Nelamangala and Shravanabelagola by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) was completed on Friday.

More than 80 railway officials, led by Central Railway Safety Commissioner K A Manohar, began the track inspection between Nelamangala and Shravanabelagola on February 6.

Officials in seven trolleys inspected the route from Nelamangala, passing through Thippasandra, Solur, Kunigal, Yediyur, Adichunchanagiri, Bellur Cross, Hirisave and completed the process at Shravanabelagola. The officials got down from the trolley at several points to check the track and strength of the mini-bridges and curves. They pointed out minor glitches and provided technical suggestions for rectification.

K.A. Manoharan, Commissioner of Railway Safety (Bengaluru), conducted the five-day inspection, which began on February 6.

The track’s suitability was also tested by running the train at 110 km/h.

The team, which included Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) Ashok Gupta and Divisional Railway Manager Sanjiv Agarwal, inspected the track, bridges, stations, signal and basic amenities along the route.

Mr. Manoharan, speaking to presspersons at Shravanabelagola, said that the track condition was okay but there were minor issues with regard to other things.

“The issues that need to be improved have been brought to the notice of officials concerned,” he said.

The line connecting Hassan and Bengaluru via Shravanabelagola was proposed 20 years ago when H.D. Deve Gowda was the Prime Minister.

The line is expected to be operational by the end of this month. Mr. Gupta said that he was hopeful that the train would run by the end of February.

K.N. Krishnaprasad and T.P. Lokesh from Karnataka Railway Vedike, a rail advocacy group, who witnessed the inspection on Friday, said that the construction was remarkable despite two-decade delay. Platforms at all stations are designed to accommodate a full-train (24 coaches) even as there are no level crossings on the entire section.

An engineer with SWR construction wing however said only one level crossing exists near Soladevanahalli, off Nelamangala, which can be eliminated.

Otherwise, railway under or over bridges are constructed between Nelamangala and Hassan for crossing roads.

This helps operating trains at high speeds, Mr. Prasad said.

Parts of the Bengaluru-Hassan new line (166 km), Chikkabanavara-Nelamangala and Shravanabelagola-Hassan, are already commissioned.

After inspection, a trial run was conducted with a double-engine nine-bogie train at a speed of 110 km/hour from Shravanabelagola to Nelamangala, carrying railway officials and technicians. Railway safety commissioner Ashok Gupta said big and small bridges on the route, tracks, cables of the signals and the stations have been checked.

CID hands over Kuneru Rail Accident Case to NIA

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Andhra Pradesh government has handed over the investigation into the rail accident at Kuneru in Vizianagaram to the National Investigation Authority (NIA).

According to sources, the development happened a couple of days ago. “CID officials have sent fractured rails and other objects found at the scene of the accident to the forensic laboratory at Hyderabad. They later handed over the investigation findings to the NIA,” they said.

On January 21, 40 passengers were killed and several injured when seven coaches and the engine of 18448 Jagadalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed near Kuneru railway station.

The Union home ministry had ordered a probe by the NIA, while the state government had asked the CID to conduct its enquiry. Initially, railway officials too had not ruled out sabotage by Maoists.

The CID team did not find any evidence of involvement of naxals or particles of explosive material at the mishap site. However, they had sent the fractured rails and other material collected at the accident spot to the forensic lab. A five-member team of the NIA had also visited the accident spot and interacted with the injured persons two days after the mishap.

“On orders of the home ministry, the case was transferred to the NIA. As off now, there is no evidence of naxal involvement in the mishap. If they wish to do it, they would have struck at any place from Rayagada to Kuneru and not at the railway station. The rails are not easy to cut. You can do it only with gas cutters and it would not be possible to do so near the station with a railway employee being always present at the signalling cabin and the platform being so close,” a senior official of CID said.

Another train derailment attempt foiled, miscreants try to cut rail track on Chandausi-Bahjoi section in UP

An alert gangman informed rail authorities about an attempt by miscreants to cut tracks between Chandausi-Bahjoi. Police and GRP have launched a probe into the incident that happened in Moradabad Division of Northern Railway in Uttar Pradesh!

CHANDAUSI: A major rail disaster was averted in Uttar Pradesh today after a gangman alerted the authorities of an attempt by miscreants to cut the track. The incident took place between Chandausi and Bahjoi.

“At 06:45 am, keyman Somveer of Gate No 1 reported attempt to cut rail by miscreants at km 72/4-5 in block section Chandausi-Bahjoi,” a railway official said.

Soon after the information, local police and GRP rushed to the spot and recovered tools used in the attempted sabotage. Dog squad and a forensic team were also rushed to the spot.

The police have initiated an investigation to nab the culprits behind the train derailment attempt.

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The incident comes just a couple of days after a key suspect in the Kanpur train derailment was arrested from Kathmandu after being deported from Dubai.

A special team of Nepal police arrested ISI agent Md.Samshul Hoda along with three others at the Tribhuvan International Airport on February 7.

Over 150 people were killed and dozens other injured when Indore-Patna Express derailed near Kanput on November 20, 2016. A month later, fifteen bogies of Sealdah-Ajmer Express derailed near Rura in Kanpur injuring over 40.

The recent rail accidents in Uttar Pradesh, which is scheduled to vote for Assembly election in seven phases starting February 11, have the security agencies working over time to safeguard tracks and other important rail installations. Investigations have pointed towards involvement of foreign terror groups.