INDIA: Indian Railways has issued a month-long safety drive after a preliminary report revealed that a faulty German-made braking system was likely to have caused a recent train collision in the Sultanpur district.
The railway zones have been instructed to monitor loco pilots’ braking techniques and ensure that trains fitted with the bogie-mounted brake system (BMBS) follow the prescribed speed limit.
The BMBS has been involved in a series of complaints and accidents. The Indian Railways has placed restrictions on loaded trains, with over 50% of their wagons fitted with the system.
Such trains are limited to speeds of 50 kmph on downward gradients, 65 kmph on level tracks, and 80 kmph on DFC. The Sultanpur collision involved two goods trains, one running at 65 kmph on a downward gradient when its brakes proved ineffective.
In response, the Railways told inspectors to do “ambush checks” on loco pilots to make sure they follow the rules and keep an eye on the crew’s control of the train when there are yellow signals or slopes.
The safety drive will also focus on preventing SPAD (signal passed at danger) cases, which can result from loco pilots working beyond their stipulated duty hours and becoming fatigued. The Railway Board order stressed that loco pilots and assistant loco pilots need to get enough rest.
The BMBS was flagged by the Research Design and Standards Organization in July 2022 due to deficiencies in its braking power. All wagons with BMBS are equipped with a twin-pipe system and are to be run in “twin-pipe mode” for safer operations on long, steep gradients.
Indian Railways has a network of over 67,000 km and is one of the largest employers in the world, with around 1.3 million employees. The safety drive is part of ongoing efforts to make the rail network safer and stop accidents caused by broken equipment and human error.
The railway network is vital to India’s infrastructure, transporting goods and people across the country. The safety of passengers and workers is the most important thing, so the Railways are taking steps to fix the problems that the Sultanpur crash and the BMBS braking system have brought up.
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