Human errors still haunt Rlys

Cash crunch hits installing anti-collision device

However, the cash-starved ministry is not in a position to eliminate this error. Railways is not in a position to implement various inquiry reports of accidents in 2010 that have unequivocally recommended installation of the Anti-Collision Device (ACD) as the most effective way of eliminating human error factor in train accidents. It may also not be able to remove another vitally linked problem to the safety of the trains – the huge shortage of staff in safety-related jobs.

Inquiry reports of most of the major accidents in 2010 have found human error as the cause of these accidents. Except for Gyaneshwari Express accident, where sabotage was found to be the reason of accident, inquiry reports of all other accidents have recommended installation of ACD as the best possible way to avoid train accidents.

The concept of ACD was developed way back in 1999, but is still in trial phase. Field trials of ACD were started in early 2001 in Northeast Frontier (NF) Railway. An extended field trial was also conducted in Jalandhar-Amritsar section in Northern Railway in 2002-2003.

Then, it was introduced as a pilot project in NF railway and has been under service trials there since 2006. A second phase trial has also been conducted in 2010-11 in Southern Railway. Version-II of ACD is being developed on the basis of these trials.

Performance evaluation

Now, the department has decided to expedite ACD  installation on 8,486 route kms in Northeast Frontier, Eastern, East Central, East Coast, South Eastern, Southern, South Central and South Western Railways. But this is to be done only after the performance of version-II ACD is evaluated in NF railway. According to railway sources, this will take time. The actual process of installation seems to be remote.  

However, sources in the Ministry say that resource crunch is the main reason behind the Railway going slow in installing Anti-Collision Device.

Sources say that inability in removing the problem of huge shortage of staff in safety- related jobs is also related to financial crisis.  The latest data of railway ministry put the figure of total vacancies in Railways to 1, 67,000, including 88,000 safety-related jobs.  About 13,000 posts of loco running staff, who contribute the most in running trains, are vacant. The shortage of staff not only affects day-to-day running of trains but also training and skill development, says an official. However, Railways is unlikely to remove the backlog in the near future.

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