To speed up rescue and relief operations in the aftermath of accidents, Railways have decided to procure hi-tech equipment worth Rs. 500 crore, including high-speed self-propelled accident relief trains, plasma cutters and 175-ton capacity cranes.
Hydraulic cold and hot cutters and tunnel rescue equipment will also be procured to make rescue operations faster and effective.
Estimated to cost about Rs. 500 crores, Railways will float global tenders for procuring the high capacity equipment shortly.
“We will go for procurement of latest machineries required for faster rescue and relief operation during train mishaps,” said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding “the procurement will be carried out in phases.”
Currently, Railways have 140-ton capacity cranes. .
“There is a requirement for 175-ton capacity cranes to take care of higher axle loads,” he said.
Plasma cutters are required to cut coaches and wagons made of stainless steel. “Since Railways are replacing conventional coaches with stainless coaches and wagons are also now made of steel, we need plasma cutters.”
Asked about difficulties faced during rescue operations in recent train accidents and lessons learnt from them, the official said, “It is a continuous process to upgrade skills and machineries involved in rescue and relief operations.”
Railways have 170 accident relief trains (ART) stationed across the country. “But these ARTs require locomotives to run. So we will go for self-propelled ARTs which do not require locos,” the official said.
According to railways’ disaster management plan, an ART has to start its emergency run within 30 minutes of receiving a message about an accident in the day time and 40 minutes during the night.
Railways have their own communication network and medical infrastructure. Besides uniformed force of RPF/RPSF, the national transporter has an army of gangmen spread across the country, which will be pressed into service to restore the affected line.
However, there is absence of tunnel rescue equipment in case of a mishap in rail tunnels.
“We are procuring tunnel rescue equipment along with the high-capacity cranes,” the official said.
Besides accidents, railways disaster management plan takes into account natural calamities like earthquakes or flash floods which also disrupt train services.