Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Mar 25, 2004
Logistics - Railways
Rlys crash course for safer coaches
New Delhi , March 24
DAIMLER Benz does it to Mercedes cars. Most other auto companies also do it to their cars. Now, Indian Railways is burning and crashing brand new passenger coaches to collect information on how to make them safer and reduce human casualties in the event of an accident.
The Kapurthala-based Rail Coach Factory (RCF) is preparing a crash track where brand new coaches will be crashed at over 70 km per hour to see how the passenger section gets affected.
The experiment will be conducted in July in the presence of experts from the Railways' premier research organisation, the Lucknow-based Research, Designs and Development Organisation, which is already using computers to prepare crash models.
"We will be testing a new coach as part of our external crash-worthiness programme. The data will be collated with the results of computer-simulated crashes. If the actual crash results validate the predictions of the computer tests, we will know exactly what areas we need to work on," the RCF General Manager, Mr M. Sirajuddin, told Business Line.
Although the RCF plans to crash just one coach this time, Mr Sirajuddin said that if the results were not conclusive, the experiment could be repeated in future.
"The effort is to protect the passenger section of a coach in the event of an accident. We can keep it from collapsing even in a high-speed collision, but the passengers can get fatal neck injuries due to the sudden jerk.
The effort is to have zones that absorb the energy and minimise casualties," he said.
RCF has already conducted actual experiments on a fireproof coach design.
A second-class coach with fire retardant features was set on fire to test the behaviour of the fireproofing features in a live situation, Mr Sirajuddin said. Explaining the fire-retardant features, he said that the wood-vinyl flooring and side panels of the coach had been replaced by metal.
Smoke sensors had been installed to trigger alarms and activate the brakes. Finally, exhaust fans had been put on the roof to disperse smoke.
The Railways' other coach-manufacturing unit, the Integral Coach Factory at Chennai, has also developed a fireproof coach and now the RDSO has been asked to study both the designs and spell out specifications that will be adopted by both the units.
Mr Sirajuddin said that the modifications would be carried out in a phased manner.
"There are two aspects of the crash-worthiness programme - internal and external. While we have already started incorporating the suggestions that came out after the internal crash worthiness programme. The external programme is on and we have to take a decision on how to carry out the possible modifications that emerge," he said.
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