Nine AC coaches and the engine of Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express (train no 12290) derailed near Titwala station, a small town in Maharashtra`s Kalyan, on Tuesday due to a sudden landslide caused by incessant rains in the region. “Sudden landslide caused Duronto Express derailment. Excellent job by driver of applying emergency breaks,” said Central Rail Chief PRO.
Rescue operations, currently underway, have also been hampered due to incessant rains. Ambulances and rescue team rushed from nearest city Kalyan. Those injured are being shifted to nearby hospitals. There are no reports of casualties.
Firstly, We would like to thank God as there are no casualties in this incident of a train derailing.
Secondly, there are some specific reasons why there were no casualties in this particular incident, i.e, the use of LHB coaches. These coaches do not climb over each and crash because of a special type of CBC (centre buffer coupler). It is the same thing that is also responsible for the jerk you experience as the train accelerates/decelerates. ICF coaches have screw couplers. These coaches have have, Anti-Telescopic, Technology which ensures Passenger safety during an event of collision or derailment. Moreover, a LHB coach has most of its heavier components under the passenger cabins which also prevents crushing of coaches lengthwise.
In 2016, after two accidents Railway minister Suresh Prabhu declared all ICF Bogies will be replaced by LHB coaches by the end of 2017 to provide more safety and comfort.
LHB coaches are designed for higher passenger capacity and operating speed up to 160 km per hour. At present trains like Rajdhani Express, Purushottam Express, Duronto and Shatabdi Express are fitted with LHB coaches, as per Railways officials. Steps are being taken by railways to replace all conventional coaches of trains with LHB coaches in a phased manner to ensure safety and comfort of passengers.
LHB coaches are currently being manufactured at Kapurthala, as well as Rae Bareli.
These coaches are made of stainless steel and the interiors are made of aluminium which make them lighter as compared to conventional rakes. Each coach also has an “advanced pneumatic disc brake system” for efficient braking at higher speeds, “modular interiors” that integrate lighting into ceiling and luggage racks with wider windows. The improved suspension system of LHB coaches ensures more riding comfort for the passengers compared to conventional rakes. The air conditioning system of the LHB coaches is of higher capacity compared to the older rakes and is controlled by a microprocessor which is said to give passengers better comfort than the older coaches during summer and winter seasons.
The plan is to phase out ICF mainline coaches. According to the ministry of railways, the national carrier has around 1,253 LHB coaches at present. It has set a target of manufacturing 1,268 coaches in the next financial year and around 1,600 by 2019. Indian Railways is slowly phasing out ICF coaches.
LHB coaches have the maximum permissible speed of 160 kmph. The prototype has been tested successfully at RDSO for 200 kmph though. ICF coaches on the contrary have that speed set at 110 kmph, barring old Rajdhani rakes which were capable of doing 130 kmph.
Last year, Hemant Kumar, member rolling stock, Indian Railways said that “The requirements of LHB coaches are different from the ICF design. There are certain components which are different. Unless and until vendors are able to scale up production, we cannot take a decision that we will stop ICF and start LHB, and end up making neither. So we have given them some time. Even among ICF coaches, we are trying to switch over to the CBC.”
In ICF coaches, the end zone crumples as it crumples it derails, whereas if the whole coach is a solid structure then people inside are protected and they should definitely go for LHB coaches. Railways need to do more research and development in the sense of simulations such as it is done in the automobile sector for crash testing purposes to see how the human bodies get affected in case there is an accident. Railway needs to fasten the process of phasing out ICF coaches, so that casualties and death tolls in train derailment incidents will go down to zero, like this incident.