The LHB coaches are equipped with modern technology to prevent capsizing of coaches
Capsizing of conventional coaches in three consecutive major train derailments since November last year has pushed the Railways to go for complete elimination of old-designed compartments at Integral Coach Factory (ICF) near Chennai and opt for modern Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) ones.
The LHB coaches are equipped with modern technology to prevent capsizing of coaches during the derailment.
As per the plan, manufacturing of ICF conventional coaches will be fully stopped from 2018-19 and production of LHB coaches will be expedited from 2017-18 in a big way to provide a safer and comfortable ride for passengers.
Nine coaches of Hirakund Express derailed last night near Kuneru station in Andhra Pradesh out of which four overturned. Earlier also several coaches capsized during the two major derailments near Kanpur in November and December last year, leading to greater causlaties.
While the production target of LHB coaches has been increased from 1,697 in 2016-17 to 2,384 in 2017-18, there will be 3,025 LHB coaches manufactured in 2018-19, said a senior Railway Ministry official.
According to railways rolling stock production programme, there will be only 801 conventional coaches manufactured in 2017-18, and subsequently no such coaches will be produced.
The official said a massive retrofitting exercise is being undertaken to convert existing conventional coaches into LHB ones by providing crashworthiness features in these coaches.
All safety parameters of LHB coaches like strong couplers and anti-climbing features are being provided during the retrofit exercise.
Currently, railways have about 50,000 conventional coaches which will be retrofitted with modern safety features in phases.
Railway needs comprehensive action plan for safety issues
Raising concerns over the rail safety, a senior government official on Sunday said that Railway Ministry needs to prepare a comprehensive action plan for safety measures.
The official suggested that there should a mechanism for frequent check-up of railway tracks, recruit of gangmen and regular safety audits of railways.
“Technology can’t be the only solution. We don’t have a substitute for manual inspection…We are running too many trains on certain busy routes like Mughalsarai section, leaving no time for manual inspection of track,” the official said.
The official’s comment assumes significance against the backdrop of the tragic derailment of Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur on November 20 last year, and derailment of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Express in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh today.
He further said there is no point in hiring more Railway Protection Force(RPF) for safety.
“We need in-fact need more gangmen who can manually inspect the railways tracks,” the official noted.
The official further said that the weekly Monday meeting of Railways Board which has been discontinued for more than last one year should be restored.
“Also, the practice of driving the train fast in the night to make up for delay should be discontinued as it sometimes results in accidents,” he said.
The official further noted that the railways need to speed up replacement old (Integral Coach Factory-designed coaches) bogies with German Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches with advanced safety features.
The LHB coaches, equipped with advanced couplers and anti-climbing features, prevent capsizing of coaches in case of an accident. This helps to minimise damage and reduce the loss of lives because the LHB bogies do not get toppled due to its modern design.
Several expert committees have termed the ICF coaches as safety risks.
LHB coaches, which has been designed for speed upwards 120 kmph, are fuel-efficient and have a longer life span, while the ICF coaches are not meant for speed above 80-90 kmph.