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ICF rolls out prototype cars to test rails

Our Bureau

Chennai , Oct. 1

THE Integral Coach Factory (ICF), a production unit of Indian Railways, on Saturday rolled out two rail-testing cars to detect internal defects in rails.

Called Self Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT) car, the prototype vehicles were delivered to the Railway Design and Standards Organisation of India (RDSO) for testing rails across the country, according to the Minister of State for Railways, Mr R. Velu.

The vehicles costing Rs 8.3 crore each will use ultrasonic testing equipment to detect the defects, and a paint gun sprays paint at the location of the defect. There is also a "frog detector" to sense any physical obstruction on the rails. Three more SPURT cars would be delivered by ICF in the next 18 months, he told newspersons after flagging off the vehicles.

At present, rails are tested for defects using ultrasonic flaw detector (UFD) by manually pushing trolleys. However, the test speed of the system was 1-1.5 km a day with single rail test, and 4-5 km a day with double rail tester. The SPURT car, on the other hand, has a speed of 70 km per hour (both rails), the Minister said. The designs of the cars were done in 3D using solid modelling software called Solidworks. The testing equipment manufactured by an Israeli firm, Scanmaster, has been fitted in the SPURT cars, he said.

According to Mr Velu, the number of rail accidents last year reduced to 234 compared to 455 two years ago. This was possible due to introduction of latest technologies in safety equipment. The SPURT car was one such measure to increase safety in railways. The Minister said that in 2001, the Government had set up an Rs 17,000-crore non-lapsable safety fund to replace over-aged assets.

Board sanctions aid: The Railway Board has sanctioned Rs 2,000 crore for Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to procure 142 rakes of 12 coaches a rake, according to Mr Velu.

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