Despite Suresh Prabhu’s best efforts, why accidents occur – lest we forget.


Despite Suresh Prabhu’s best efforts, why accidents occur – lest we forget.

We are a fan of Suresh Prabhu and in our previous post we have identified him as one of the Navratna of Modi Government.

Indeed he has transformed and has brought a paradigm shift in the way Indian passenger gets attention for their problems, which now gets solved immediately through emails and tweets on the spot or at most next railway station. It shows that what we need is a will power to deliver that Suresh Prabhu has shown.

Can one believe that this is happening in India. A mother tweets for milk for her small kid and gets the same on the next station. Many such surprising customer centric events are taking place. The author also witnessed once the same first hand. I was travelling with my young kid and the berths were allotted far apart for me and my kid. I requested the same and promptly my request was attended. My request was plain and simple through the normal tweet and mail , no personal contacts or VIP bearing. This is for the first time in Indian history where customer / passenger has been put on priority and all DRM’s have been asked specifically to spend time on passenger facilities and convenience.

Besides the hon’ble minister has taken many other initiatives which needs to be appreciated whole heartedly. New high speed trains are tested and launched. Mr Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railways, has launched free Wi-Fi facility at eight stations of Mumbai suburban railway network, which will provide high speed access network to all railway users.

The investments by the Ministry in 2015-16 were double the average investment over the past five years. Presenting the Railway Budget 2016-17 in the Parliament, Mr Suresh Prabhu announced capital expenditure for 2016-17 at Rs 121,000 crore (US$ 18.04 billion), which will be implemented through joint ventures with states and developing new frameworks for Public-private partnership (PPP).
Ministry of Railways has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with governments and national railways of Japan and Russia for cooperation in areas such as high speed corridors, speed raising of existing routes, development of world class stations, heavy haul operations and modernisation of rail infrastructure.
In fact there are a host of reforms and facilities carried out at Indian railways that need to be applauded.

Having said that the unfortunate train accident near Kanpur in UP opened up once again the sore point of the railways. The reason for the same is that still we are running coaches that are coupled using old bearings that are regularly exposed to tear and wear. It requires regular maintenance and changes. An immediate question will be are they attended as per the requirement of the mechanical system.

A good description of railway bogie wheel and axle system can be seen here ( A view of the coupling system can be seen here (

The LHB coaches that are used in indian railways uses CBC couplers which provide longitudnal jerks. The Center Buffer Coupling (CBC), Coupling system were being used in Railways but was not used for passenger coaches till 2000. This coupler were primarily for all freight train. However later, with improved design and with Transfer Of Technology these are now being manufactured in India and are being used in Prestigious trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdhi, Duronto & in some recently introduced AC Express.

The LHB Coaches which are used for majority of these trains have this coupler configuration. These coaches are manufactured at RCF Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala. There are some Trains which have ICF made coaches (Integral Coach Factory ) which are blue in colour having such configuration which are being used for Important trains from year 2005. But was stopped in 2008 due to some reasons.

However the Vibrations produced and jerks due to sudden acceleration and deceleration of the train are comparatively high in CBC coupling as can be seen in Shatabdi trains if one travel between Delhi and Bhopal ( 12001/12002).

The replacement of coaches might be complicated as some major junctions doesn’t have many spare LHB coaches or CBC coupled coaches.

The LHB Coaches are Anti Telescopic which means they do not get turned over or flip in case of a collision which is absent in screw coupled coaches. Even though some trains having CBC system which are typical ICF coaches don’t crash and flip but damage might be slightly high.(

But than, there is cost of replacing bogies and using the newly designed cbc couplers. If not the old system must be regularly checked and maintained. And it is here that the Indian railways has not been able to provide the required performance level for what ever reasons.

It is not the job of the minister to work at these micro level. There is a railway board and complete technical staff which are supposed to look after these day to day stuff. The minister must as a first step seek a report from the top railway officials about the maintenance work they have carried out for the railway bogies and the their coupling system. This will help in diagnosing the exact reasons for the railway incident and may perhaps prevent something in the future.

There is also a Railway technical mission board that is chaired by an eminent IIT professor, who is trying his best to lend his expertise to the technical issues of railways. But it seems that the railways are also stuck in deep bureaucracy and needs sort of Surgical strike to keep it on the track. Else how do you explain this chairman serving the railways without any honorarium to the extent that even to visit the accident site he has to first pay by himself from his pocket as he does not have a budget to spend from.

We hope and expect the efficient and dynamic minister to take look into the deeper and hidden side of railways more closely on priority and fix the loop holes at the earliest.

Asheesh Shah
Author: Asheesh Shah

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