SC notice to Railways over sleeper coach safety

Materials used in its make-up are substandard, says PIL plea

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court has served notice on the Railways on a public interest petition seeking direction that sleeper coaches being manufactured conform with international safety standards.

A Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued the notice, returnable in four weeks, on the writ petition filed by advocate Abhay Singh.

Ban sought

Pointing out that materials at present used in cushions, cushion covers, curtains, flooring and wood partitioning are substandard and do not comply with safety standards, the petitioner sought a ban on the use of these materials.

In his petition, Mr. Singh said in recent times there had been a number of accidents “where a large number of passengers have been charred to death.” These deaths, he added, were caused by asphyxiation resulting from inhalation of toxic gases.

“This toxicity is caused from poisonous gases released by the inferior and substandard quality of the materials used by the Indian Railways in the interior furnishings, which are all around the passengers.

The materials used in the railway coaches emit toxic gases much beyond the permissible limit. The Officials of the Indian Railways are apparently aware of this basic flaw in the materials being purchased and used in the passenger coaches.”

He quoted several test reports released by government laboratories that clearly indicate that the Toxicity Index of these materials exceed the specified permissible limits. “The matter needs to be investigated and resolved at the earliest as the hapless passengers are being subjected to risking their lives while travelling in trains run by the Railways, funded by the tax payers’ money and is considered as a safe and affordable mode of travel.”

  • ‘The death of many passengers of late was due to asphyxiation caused by toxic gases’
  • ‘Several tests show the toxicity index of these materials exceed permissible limits’