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News Entry# 287985
Dec 08 2016 (17:08)  To avert accidents, railways may deploy rail-fracture detection device - Infracircle (
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News Entry# 287985     
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The Indian Railways which witnessed one of the deadliest train accidents—the derailment of the Indore-Patna Express on 20 November claiming 150 lives—may deploy a device that will be able to detect rail fracture and alert engine drivers.
The device, termed ‘Rail-Safe’, is designed to get triggered by rail fractures and signal pilots of the approaching train through blinking lights which will be visible from a reasonable distance.
Officials believe a rail-fracture may have sent the 14 carriages of the Indore-Patna Express crumpling into each other as most of the 1,700-odd passengers on board
slept. Officials, however, cannot be sure till each section of the damaged track is analysed.
“We have pushed the proposal for the Rail-Safe device; it is the need of the hour. It was designed on the most basic principles to detect rail fractures and send out signals. The conceptual prototype which was tested last year was found to be working yet no action has been taken,” said a railway ministry official requesting anonymity.
The Indian Railways at present depends on gangmen, now known as track maintainers, who are involved in track maintenance and safety works to monitor the condition of tracks.
The national carrier’s dilapidated condition came under heavy criticism following the derailment of the Indore-Patna Express. The ministry of railways soon decided to discontinue the Integral Coach Factory (ICF)-designed coaches by 2017 and switch completely to German Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches, as reported by InfraCircle on 25 November.
According to experts, the national carrier needs to be clear on its plan of phasing out the entire stock of ICF coaches.
“The Kakodkar Committee Report on safety submitted in 2012 had clearly said ICF coaches were unsafe and asked for immediate phasing out. After that, the Sreedharan committee report reiterated the issue of ICF coaches. Yet no action has been taken till now. Why did it take an incident like this to trigger them to get into action?” said former Indian Railways’ Accounts Service officer Akhileshwar Sahay.
In addition the ministry also decided to introduce center buffer couplers (CBCs), which reduces chances of a pile up, in the existing ICF coaches in place of screw coupling.
In a meeting held on 4 December chaired by member rolling stock Ravindra Gupta and attended by officials from Research Designs & Standards Organization, Integrated Coach Factory-Chennai, Rail Coach Factory-Kapurthala and Modern Coach Factory-Raebareli, it was discussed with CBC manufacturers that all coaches should have CBCs in existing and new ones within a period of five years.
“The vendors were asked if there is sufficient capacity to make that many CBCs and implement it. The overall expense is coming out be more as coaches with different couplers will have to go through quite a lot of renovation,” said the railway official.
Queries emailed to the spokesperson of the ministry of railways on 6 December remained unanswered.
The Rail-Safe device does not require any other form of communication system and relies on direct visible warning to train drivers by way of blinking high intensity light-emitting diodes.
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