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Blog Entry# 2068588  
Posted: Nov 23 2016 (10:41)

1 Responses
Last Response: Nov 23 2016 (10:41)
Rail News
Commentary/Human InterestNCR/North Central  -  
Nov 23 2016 (10:25)   I blame Indian Railways for Indore-Patna Express tragedy

RAVI PRAJAPATI*^~   942 news posts
Entry# 2068588   News Entry# 286538         Tags   Past Edits
In the aftermath of the serious accident near Pukhrayan in Uttar Pradesh, I get a sense of déjà vu.
After every accident, ex gratia payments are announced, politicians rush to the scene of the accident or visit hospitals and shed crocodile tears.
Then the blame game starts. The previous regime is blamed. It is announced that the guilty will be punished. There is breast-beating about lack of funds.
reports on railway safety are taken out, dusted off, and studied afresh. Panel discussions are held in which the participants including retired railway officials pontificate.
Statistics are reeled out to show that Indian Railways' safety record is improving.
Comparisons are smugly made with foreign railways showing the Indian Railways in a good light without mentioning that the definition of railway accidents differs in different countries.
After the brouhaha dies down, it is back to business.
All this is of no solace to the families of victims who have lost their lives or rendered permanently disabled.
The core issue is that of implementing safety measures and continuous follow-up. The Indian Railways does not deal with accident-related inquiries in a professional manner.
Every accident is treated as if it were a "whodunit". Responsibility is fixed on an individual without assessing systemic failures.
Even where the commissioner of Railway safety has pinpointed system failures, there is no continuous follow up.
If the Railways is serious about improving safety, it should deal effectively with both the "software" and "hardware" aspects.
The Railways' antiquated and bureaucratic methods of purchase have led to perennial shortages of material. (Photo credit: PTI)
By software I mean recruitment, training, well-being of employees, honest reporting of accidents and an unbiased approach to inquiries defining why the accident occurred and what can be done to prevent future occurrence, rather than apportioning blame on individuals.
I am not saying that the guilty should go scot free, but their acts of omission or commission should be established by preponderance of evidence.
The hardware includes maintenance of infrastructure, including track, bridges, locomotives, passenger coaches, and wagons, signalling and telecommunication equipment.
Safety-related works such as track renewals and improved signalling should be expedited. Take, for instance, the Kiul Junction in Bihar, on the money-making East Central Railway.
Last year I had to change trains at midnight. Since the platforms and waiting rooms were in darkness, I took refuge in the station master's room. This room was lit by a single incandescent lamp.
I chatted with the station master who had just been relieved at the end of his shift. Kiul Junction handles about 200 trains daily.
They come from four different directions - Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati and Mumbai.
The hard-pressed station master has to control their movement manually using an ancient "slide instrument".
Why this station has not been provided with route relay interlocking system is a mystery. If heaven forbid, a collision occurs in Kiul, the station master will be fired.
The Indian Railways has instituted a well-thought out system for track maintenance.
The hardware and software for this system was planned by the brilliant civil engineers with considerable field experience.
However, lack of internet connectivity and computer illiteracy has stymied this system.
The Railways' antiquated and bureaucratic methods of purchase have led to perennial shortages of material.
Even grease for the elastic track fasteners rubber pads, liners and other fittings are in short supply.
There is a misconception in the public mind that ICF-built coaches are old and unsafe.
These coaches were designed in Switzerland and have withstood the test of time.
They have continuously improved for instance, by using high tensile corrosion resistant steel, instead of copper bearing mild steel.
They are rehabilitated at mid life and brought back to pristine condition. They are also being fitted with the latest design of centre buffer couplers similar to the LHB (Linke-Hoffman Busch-German) coaches.
While the Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala in Punjab and the one in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh, are manufacturing coaches only of LHB design, Integral Coach Factory Chennai has also started manufacturing LHB coaches which are safer than coaches of Schlieren design.
Even with the utmost precautions and the most advanced, safe-fail technology, an accident can still occur.
France and Switzerland, with an enviable record of railway safety, still have accidents.
Just as the most efficient and effective police force cannot guarantee that no crime will take place, even the most efficient and effective railway administration cannot assure that there will be no accidents.
The difference between advanced countries (like Japan, France and USA) and India is the attitude towards safety.
In the advanced countries, there is a holistic approach. On the Indian Railways, safety is treated in isolation without regard to the overall climate and without any continuous follow up of remedial measures.
The "fix responsibility and punish" methods have done little to prevent accidents, but have shattered morale.
Accidents can be reduced only by adopting a systems approach. Departmental bias should be eschewed.
Inquiries should focus more on "how" and "why" an accident occurred and "what" can be done to prevent recurrence, and less on "who" is responsible.
Above all, if every railway employee finds pride and joy in his or her work, it will go a long way to improve safety.

Nov 23 2016 (10:41)
Guest: 52ad97b9   show all posts
Re# 2068588-1            Tags   Past Edits
I fully agree with you. In spite of passengers telling the staff that there is a problem in train they either denied or overlooked

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