Railways may induct modern coaches that are equipped with technology to prevent capsizing of coaches during accidents.
New Delhi: Grappling with yet another accident, the Railways on Sunday did not rule out sabotage as the cause of the derailment of the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express train even as railway minister Suresh Prabhu ordered a high-level probe into the incident. In order to enhance safety measures, the Railways has also decided to go in for a complete elimination of coaches of old designs at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) near Chennai and opt for modern LHB ones. The LHB or Linke Hofmann Busch coaches are equipped with modern technology to prevent capsizing of coaches during derailment.
The Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Express train derailed at Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh killing more than 40 passengers and injuring many. This is the third serious train accident in the last three months with the last two happened near Kanpur.
As per the plan for using modern coaches, manufacturing of ICF conventional coaches will be fully stopped from 2018-19 and production of LHB coaches will be expedited from 2017-18 in a big way.
Officials in the railway ministry said that the production target of LHB coaches has been increased from 1,697 in 2016-17 to 2,384 in 2017-18, while in 2018-19, there will be 3,025 LHB coaches manufactured.
The old or conventional coaches are being slowly phased out with only 801 conventional coaches manufactured in 2017-18 and subsequently no such coaches will be produced.
Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is a former railway minister herself, has without pinning blame on Mr Prabhu, said the government was compromising the safety and security of the Railways.
“We don’t blame the minister; he is earnest in his efforts. But government needs to address issues urgently. However, now Railways is neglected and being given less priority. The Budget is being curtailed. Safety and security are being compromised,” she tweeted.
Officials said a massive retrofitting exercise is also being undertaken to convert existing conventional coaches into LHB ones.
All safety parameters of LHB coaches like strong couplers and anti-climbing features are being provided during the retrofit exercise. Currently, railways have about 50,000 conventional coaches which will be retrofitted with modern safety features in phases.