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Why Did The Indore-Patna Express Have Outdated ICF Coaches?

Red tape and bureaucracy might be to blame.

21/11/2016 10:18 AM IST | Updated 21/11/2016 11:02 AM IST
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Rescue workers search for survivors in the wreckage of a train that derailed near Pukhrayan in Kanpur district on Sunday.

The derailing of the Indore-Patna Express on Sunday has claimed over 120 lives so far and another 200 passengers have been injured. According to some reports, the ill-fated train's Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches might have been responsible for the high casualty figures.

All the ICF coaches being used in Indian Railways are slated to be replaced by Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches by the year 2020.

According to a News18 report, the Kakodkar Committee, constituted in 2012 by then railway minister Dinesh Trivedi and chaired by former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar, had suggested that the ICF coaches be replaced with the lighter and safer LHB coaches to reduce injuries and casualties in case of an accident.

The incumbent Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu, had promised when presenting the 2015-16 rail budget that all ICF coaches would be phased out eventually and replaced by LHB coaches.

The Indian Express reports that while ICF coaches are designed for speeds of up to 80-90 kmph (kilometres per hour), LHB coaches are designed for speeds upwards of 120 kmph. LHB coaches are also designed to not pile up in case of derailments like the one on Sunday.

The Patna-bound train jumped the tracks, badly damaging four ordinary sleeper coaches in which hundreds of passengers were trapped. Coaches S1 and S2 telescoped into each other and most of the casualties are feared to have been in these two compartments.

According to the Indian Express, while Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had issued an order for the total replacement of ICF by LHB coaches, the railways bureaucracy had asked him to reconsider the pace of conversion. The report also says that ICF coaches continue to be in use, despite the Railway Minister's suggestion, because of a very strong lobby.

Besides the changing of coaches, the Kakodkar Committee also recommended strengthening of tracks and improving signalling systems. The News18 reports that trillions of rupees and more than 1 lakh personnel will be required to implement these changes.

The Railways Minister has said that a high-level inquiry will be carried out into Sunday's accident.

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