CHENNAI: Fire hazard has always posed a safety risk in trains. Railways is now putting to trial a fire and smoke detection alarm system. The audio-visual system, installed in passenger coaches, will relay information to both passengers as well as onboard technical staff.
According to a senior Integral Coach Factory (ICF) official, trials are being undertaken presently in about 10 trains consisting of 200 coaches plying across the country. “The trial has been going on for about a month now. Both ICF and Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala are involved in this trial,” he said.
He added that ICF is looking at installing such a system in non-air-conditioned coaches, perhaps a first such initiative in the world.
The system has been designed in a manner that when there is smoke or fire, the information is immediately relayed to the guard, who will be able to alert the driver to stop the train. Besides, technical staff will be informed to examine the affected coach. The ICF official said they are now modifying the system wherein every coach will have an audio visual alarm so that passengers are informed.
According to a Comptroller and Auditor General report, the number of fire accidents on trains went up by 160 per cent during 2001-02 to 2013. The report cited short circuit, poor maintenance and lack of awareness about fire safety as major reasons. The report also highlighted the need for an automatic fire and smoke detection system.
The benefits of such a system are significant as it can ensure minimal loss of life and damage to railway assets.
The ICF official said that only the power cars of premium trains such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express had automatic fire suppression equipment at present. Power cars are identified as a fire-prone place. “But, there is also a need to have automatic fire detection system in all other coaches and the ongoing trial is a step in that regard,” he said.