More than 84% of train coaches in India are not safe and the railways board is now charting out a time-bound strategy to tide over this crisis. The road map was laid in an emergency board meeting on Monday against the backdrop of Indore-Patna Express mishap that claimed more than 145 lives.
According to sources, the strategy states production of only Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches designed by Alstom in Germany from 2018, introducing ultrasonic fault detector to detect fracture, revamping the training pattern of railway men and also converting railway safety directorate to an auditing body, placing the onus of safety on the engineering department.
The report presented to the board said that 53,000 of 63,000 coaches were unsafe as they did not have anti-climbing technology. “The board noticed that most deaths happened in this accident because the coaches climbed one over the other. Hence, it was decided that the current Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches will be withdrawn in a phased manner,” said an official close to the development. The Suresh Prabhu-led railways ministry will also stop producing ICF coaches from 2018 and will go for LHB coaches from that year.
Currently, India has only 4,000 LHB coaches, which have anti-collision technology, used in some Rajdhanis and Shatabdi trains. While railways produce 3,000 coaches every year, it phases out 1,000 coaches annually.