Another accident, another occasion to lament laxity

Another accident, another occasion to lament laxity

Another accident, another occasion to lament laxity

The fire accident on the Bangalore-Nanded Express, which claimed 26 lives on Saturday, has raised serious questions about safety measures on trains.

A preliminary inquiry conducted by railway officials has revealed that basic norms and measures were ignored in the train. In fact, they are given a go-by in most trains.
Sources in the South Western Railway (SWR) told Deccan Herald on Monday that there were no hammers in the AC coach that was gutted or in any of the coaches of the train.

Hammers are very important because people can use them to break open glass windows or doors during emergencies. People also did not know where the emergency windows were located and how they could be used. This is because of lack of proper safety instructions onboard, for people to read and follow: to open the two emergency windows. This is why some were forced to break open the toilet window to escape.

While railway officials assert that there were two fire extinguishers in the coach, probe has shown that they were not inside the coach, but outside (near the entrance). Experts say this does not serve the purpose at all. They are installed just for the sake of it.
Sources said that the passengers could not access the fire extinguishers as the door was closed. In fact, passengers from other coaches used them to douse the fire, when the train stopped.

They pointed out that adequate checks for safety devices were not conducted in the depot, before the train reached the platform at Bangalore City station on Friday night.
Only basic checks were made, like screws, nuts and bolts; checks for emergency brakes; stretcher; emergency telephones; AC fuses; wheels; battery quality; gears; loose connections; charging points and so on.

Anil Kumar Agarwal, divisional railway manager, SWR, accepted that there could be safety errors.

“Fire extinguishers are present, but hammers are not present. This is because passengers take them home and hammers are not essential, but only desirable. There are many instances in which they are not replaced.”

Agarwal pointed out that nobody tried to break open the emergency window. This could be because people did not think of it.

The travelling ticket examiner (TTE) was also absent, maybe because he wanted to save his life first. He adds that installing fire/smoke censors will be discussed with the railway minister. But CCTVs are not a viable option, because they are expensive and each coach will need at least 10.