Rising derailments also due to excreta corroding rail foot: Railways

In a recent Action Taken Report, government had called for zero-discharge toilets on all passenger trains

Updated - September 02, 2016 12:05 pm IST

Published - March 15, 2015 07:01 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Dirty railway tracks and piles of garbage alongside the tracks have not only presented an ugly side to the travelling public but also posed serious safety problem to the Indian Railways. But it turns out that the excreta falling directly on the rails from the coaches is a major cause of corrosion of rail foot, leading to rail fractures and derailments.

While admitting that the number of derailments have increased on account of rail or weld fractures, the Railways have pointed out that the major cause of rail fractures is corrosion of rail foot due to dropping of excreta from the coaches directly on the rails.

In the Action Taken Report (ATR) on the recommendations of the 21st report of the Standing Committee on Railways on "Major Railway Accidents during the last five years — Causes and Remedial Measures" which was tabled recently in Parliament, the government said that all passenger train coaches need to be fixed with zero-discharge toilets to get rid of the problem of corrosion of rails.

Other measures, listed by the government, to protect the rails from corrosion include developing corrosion-resistant Nickel-Chromium-Copper rails and Copper-Molybdenum rails which are still under trial in different zonal railways; anti-corrosive bituminous painting of rails, greasing and sealing of liner contact area on corrosion prone areas. The Railways have also commissioned a study on rail corrosion due to micro-organisms and remedial measures to the Centre of Elecro-Chemical Research Institute (CECRI).

The ATR said complete mechanisation of track maintenance and construction had been planned. It said that increase in speed, axle loads and volume of traffic required greater maintenance efforts and superior quality of maintenance.

The report noted the Standing Committee's concern that poor maintenance of track was the major cause of derailment. It wanted the Railway Ministry to take proactive steps, including introducing technological innovations to improve tracks and regular inspection to ensure rail-worthiness of tracks. In 2013-14, the total number of consequential accidents due to track defects were 19 and out of these eight were due to poor maintenance of tracks.

While presenting this year's Rail Budget in the Lok Sabha last month, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had kept the focus on cleanliness of trains and stations and augmenting existing facilities for the passengers. The budget proposed to replace existing toilets with 17,388 bio toilets and bring out design for vacuum toilets in six months.

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