This refers to the reports, and the editorial, on the Nanded Express train fire (Dec.30). The railway authorities must announce on television sets and LED screens on platforms the steps to be taken in case of an emergency. In coaches, emergency exit windows must be easily identifiable. There should also be a review of the ex-gratia amount that is announced or granted for the deceased, seriously injured and those who have sustained minor injuries. In case a passenger becomes handicapped in an accident, he or she should be provided with suitable government employment.
Let us leave the issue of accidents aside. The way trains depart from smaller wayside stations especially at night leaves much to be desired. Often, the platforms are poorly lit and exposed to the elements, which make it difficult to find one’s coach, given the short stoppage time. The names and numbers on coaches are in ordinary paint and almost invisible. In spite of advances in technology, one wonders why the coach number and name cannot be illuminated with LED lighting, making it visible even from afar. Recently, the Mysore-Chennai Kaveri Express started before its scheduled time without any signal, taking passengers by surprise who risked life and limb trying to board it.
Michael D.A. Samuel,
A letter-writer (Dec.30) has blamed outsourcing as a reason for an increasing number of rail accidents. Most jobs in industry, be it space exploration or shipbuilding, are today heavily reliant on outsourcing. Deep-rooted corruption is the cause of rail accidents. Recently, I witnessed a heated argument between the linen cleaner and railway inspector in my air-conditioned coach over the quality of cleaning. This was settled in a few minutes when money changed hands. In the bargain, I received a set of dirty linen. If this is the case when it comes to providing passenger amenities, one can well imagine what happens in maintenance and safety.
While many people blame the absence of fire alarm systems to help passengers escape in times of disaster, it is necessary to standardise the choice of fire-resistant materials used in coaches. A fire spreads in seconds as heavy curtains and linen are used liberally. As plug points and reading/night lamps are becoming a common feature in coaches, there must also be standardisation of electrical load circuit breakers.
M. Premkumar Mallya,
While we have well-defined procedures to approach consumer courts for redress in cases involving consumer goods, the area of road-rail-air safety and the need for feedback and corrective mechanism is a murky area and often lacks teeth. As we have newly instituted government services to serve the RTI Act and Companies Act in the form of the Indian Information Service and the Indian Corporate Law Services respectively, it would be worthwhile to think about setting up a dedicated service to monitor the implementation, maintenance and regular updation of safety standards in all walks of life.
Anil Vishnu G.K.,
Nothing has been done to stop the further production of ICF-type coaches and introduce Linke Holfmann Busch (LHB) coaches which are modern, fire-retardant in nature and do not capsize during accidents, besides having a longer life. This was part of the recommendations of the Anil Kakodkar safety review committee constituted by the Ministry of Railways. The Railways should also relax the ban on filling vacancies at least in safety categories as its September 18, 2013 order places a total ban on the creation of posts and filling of vacancies.
Keywords: Nanded Express train fire