Aug 2

The recent accident in Gautami express where so many people lost their lives to fire and many more injured is a very gruesome event even to read. Most of them were not aware of the fire and many suffocated and became unconscious, leaving them in the path of the fire. The fire in a moving train spreads extremely fast and produces very high temperatures. It’s like a blow furnace with people inside. Though there is a plan to create Coaches with Fire Retardant materials, that doesn’t prevent the passenger luggage to act as fuel. So in addition to that, what can be done to prevent such a tragedy and limit the damage is to implement available technology in all coaches. It costs just a fraction of the profits the Indian Railways is making in a single day.

1) Let all coaches be fitted with Heat Sensors, Smoke Detectors, Fire Alarms (all are located in 3 to 4 places in every coach) and an Emergency Alert system that stops all electricity to that coach, Turns the emergency lights to switch on (better still, depending on the direction of the fire, these lights can direct the passengers towards a safe exit), warns the Engine Driver and sends the location of the train to the nearest station (GPS location or Rail Track way points what ever works).
2) The fire spreads very fast when the train is moving. So the driver can stop the train in with in a few seconds after the warning or else the system will stop it automatically.
3) Infrared cameras fitted on a periscope in the engine to visually confirm the fire.

More time consuming technologies like sprinklers and fire retardant foam sprays , metal wings deployed at the ends of the coaches to prevent spreading of fire and better door locks should be implemented without delay.

We must use the technology we are so proudly exporting at least for our safety.