Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Railways to use detonators in fog-prone areas

Santanu Sanyal
It was introduced by the British rulers many years ago but comes handy even today.
As winter sets in, the Indian Railways mulls use of detonators, among other measures, to ensure smooth and safe movement of trains, particularly passenger trains, in fog-prone areas.

Fog impact
When fog severely impairs visibility, the detonators are used to provide audible guide to locomotive crew that the train is approaching a signal. If past experiences are any lesson, most accidents take place when the driver overshoots signal due to poor visibility.
These detonators are flat disc-shaped red colour metal container having explosives mixture that detonates with pressure as wheels of the locomotives roll.
Station masters in various fog-prone areas have already been supplied with detonators and advised to use their discretion in regard to use depending on the density of the fog.
Even railway staff posted in cabins and gates in these areas have been instructed to flash detonators to warn the loco pilots if the situation so warrants. “It is a time-tested method which is used as per procedures laid down over the years,” according to a railways spokesman.
Precautionary measures
The other precautionary measures include pasting luminous and fluorescent strips in overhead equipment, level crossings and busy sections, restricting the speed of trains between 30 km and 60 km depending on whether the foggy zone falls in the automatic signal territory or absolute block territory and extending proper counselling to loco pilots, assistant loco pilots, guards and other railway staff.
The menace of fog in winter is particularly serious in northern region but with the climate change it has started posing threat to other regions as well.
For example, wiser from the experience in past few years, East Coast Railway, having headquarters in Bhubaneswar with its network spread in half-a-dozen eastern states, has launched a special drive to tackle the menace.
It has identified the fog-prone zones within its jurisdiction and accordingly adopted various measures. “We’ve particularly advised our loco pilots to use their discretion keeping in mind the safety aspect first,” a spokesman for ECoR told Business Line.
(This article was published on November 26, 2013)

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