Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Railway bending rules, standards for PM Modi's plan

Srinand Jha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 08, 2014
In its zeal to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet scheme of increasing speeds of passenger trains, the railways is bending the railways design and standards organisation (RDSO)-established standards on passenger safety.

As per RDSO guidelines, rail tracks that weigh a minimum of 60 kg per metre must “mandatorily” be provided for running trains at speeds of 160 kmph.
RDSO also sets preconditions for installation of thick web switches at facing points and construction of boundary walls at critical locations on nine existing tracks identified for semi high speeds. The ministry’s infrastructure directorate issued directions to the western railways on September 5 to conduct trials on upgrading speeds to 160 kmph on tracks that weigh only 52 kg per metre, documents available with HT show.  The railway board letter makes no mention on the need to install thick web switches and says that “sturdy fencing” can be provided for - “depending on local conditions”.
The letter also states that installation of train protection warning systems (TPWS) on tracks identified for running semi high speeds “shall not be considered mandatory”.
The railway board missive was in connection with the proposed semi high speed plan for the Virar-Ahmedabad section of the western railways. In its letter of September 11, the western railways has sought several clarifications on the directive.
“Train speeds will have to be gradually raised to 110, 130 and 160 kmph. Alongside, the railways will either have to take measures to upgrade tracks, or will need to request the RDSO to take a re-look their safety norms. Administrative sanction (to semi high speeds) is one things and ground realities are quite another”, railway board chairman Arunendra Kumar told HT.

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