After three derailments, new Railways Minister focuses on damage control
Yesterday, Piyush Goyal faced a tough day in office as he had to answer for three derailments and one an-almost derailment, just a few days after he was appointed Railways minister. His predecessor, Suresh Prabhu, had offered to resign and was moved to another portfolio after a spate of accidents last month. What steps is Goyal planning to take to stop these derailments?
Which derailments occurred?
Three derailments occurred yesterday. At 6.25am, the Jabalpur-bound Shaktipunj Express went off-track in UP. Then, at 11.45am, the Ranchi-Delhi Rajdhani Express got derailed in Delhi. At 3.55pm, a goods train was derailed in Khandala, Maharashtra. One derailment was avoided after locals noticed a fracture on the tracks between Farrukhabad and Fatehgarh in UP, before the Delhi-Kanpur Kalindi Express was about to pass.
What are the railway officials saying regarding these derailments?
Railway ministry officials have said that since all these trains were going at a slow speed, no major damage or casualties occurred. Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said "Our officials took immediate measures to make sure that the passengers do not suffer. We cleared the tracks quickly and the minister has issued instructions to officials to probe the matter."
What are the steps suggested to curb such derailments?
Piyush Goyal met Railway board officials to discuss the modifications required in trains' safety operations. Two major causes of derailments identified were unmanned level crossings and defective tracks. Accordingly, some steps discussed were elimination of all unmanned level crossings within a year, replacement of tracks that are accident-prone and where replacement is due and anti-fog LED lights to ensure safety during winters.
Goyal's suggested steps to curb derailments
Replacing ICF coaches with LHB coaches: What are these?
Another step discussed was converting entire railways to LHB coaches in 10 years. According to a 2016 Standing Committee on Railways report, Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches should be used as they don't pile onto one another and prevent casualties, if derailment occurs. Meanwhile, Railways will upgrade its current Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches using centre-buffer couplers that absorb high frequency forces during impact.
Despite budgetary allocations for safety, why is there no effect?
In the 2016-17 Rail Budget, Suresh Prabhu, then railway minister, launched "Mission Zero Accident" allocating Rs. 1 lakh crore over a five-year period to finance safety works. However, that seems to have gone off-track. The 2016 Standing Committee on Railways report provided some suggestions, including setting up a separate department for safety and providing audio-visual warning systems of approaching trains. These, if implemented, may ensure safety.Share this timeline