"Loss of lives lost in train accidents can be reduced significantly“: ISSDA Chief

New Delhi, 22nd August 2017: The tragic rail accident in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh has again brought into focus issues in rail safety. Indian Stainless-Steel Development Association (ISSDA) has reiterated importance of railway coach designs to avoid loss of lives involved in train accidents. “If all the railway coaches in the country could be made of stainless steel instead of carbon steel, it can bring down the number of lives lost in train accidents significantly,” asserted Mr KK Pahuja, President, ISSDA. As per provisional government figures, train accidents claimed 122 lives in 2015-16 and 238 in 2016-17.

The Anil KakodkarHigh-Level Safety Review Committee in March, 2012 mandated a completeswitchover of railway coaches from ICF coaches to the much safer LHBcoaches within 5 years. Currently, Indian Railways use stainlesssteel coaches in LHB designs only for Rajdhani, Shatabdi and other premiumtrains. LHB coaches are designed to be anti-telescopic, which means that theydo not pile up over each other in the event of derailment. Stainless Steelcoaches are stronger and absorb more energy during collision; they canwithstand considerable impact without fracturing. Since it progressivelycrumples from the point of impact, risk of injury and fatalities aredrastically reduced.

The use ofstainless steel in passenger coaches is a common practice in developedeconomies such as USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Korea & Australia and manyEast Asian countries. Other than trains, even buses and trams extensively usestainless steels in their outer panels. Stainless steel coaches also ensuresafety and reliability through super fire and corrosion resistance. Theintrinsic weight of vehicle decreases, thereby increasing its load carryingcapacity and fuel efficiency. In case of accidents, stainless steels undergolesser deformation, which further helps in rescue operations. In theMuzaffarnagar accident, the number of casualties was far higher than it couldhave been, had precious time not been lost in reaching passengers trapped dueto mangled train parts.

In India, asubstantial amount of downtime and cost is incurred on account of carrying outmaintenance activities in coaches and wagons. Not only does it cause inconvenienceto passengers, it also results in significant outflow of money on account ofrepair, maintenance and labour related expenses. Replacement of carbonsteel coaches with stainless steel drastically reduces maintenance relatedcosts and time. Besides, stainless steel is completely recyclable andtherefore, environmental friendly.

Mr Pahujaadded, “In India, over 23 million people commute through trains in India on adaily basis. There is an urgent need to migrate to stainless steel coaches toimprove safety of rail passengers. Fortunately, Indian Railways are alreadyseized of the matter and taken up programme for increasing manufacture of LHBstainless steel coaches.” 

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