As incidents of train derailments are at its peak during the regime of Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, the Ministry of Railways has pulled out every stop to find out a permanent solution to such accidents. According to sources, the Railways Ministry is in talks with Defence Ministry for leveraging the technologies and equipment available with the latter to detect cracks in rail tracks.
“The Railways Minister had a detailed discussion with his cabinet colleague Manohar Parrikar over the issue and the latter has assured every help to railways in controlling rail mishaps. During the conversation, the Defence Minister has offered to provide technological support by making available sonar as well as laser-based technologies for instant detection of cracks in rail tracks,” a source said.
Explaining further, the source said, “The sonar-based technologies are in use in different wings of the defence ministry and its results are very accurate. A device fitted with sonar system would be placed in the engine of the train. The device would release signals to driver about tracks condition and on detection of cracks, apart from alerting the drive about it, the device would automatically apply emergency break.”
Sonar system, which is a technique that uses sound propagation to detect cracks or any objects on or under the surface of the water, is being used in submarines to find out obstacles underwater. Apart from this, the Defence Ministry has also offered laser technology to check cracks in railway tracks. The laser technology is being used by several airway carriers to detect cracks in aeroplanes and it has been proving very effective.
“Apart from above two breakthrough technologies, the rail ministry has received a proposal from its PSU about installing a device in the engine that would be flow current on the tracks and on detection of cracks, the current flow would be stopped which would help the driver to apply emergency break,” the source said, adding that the presentation in this regard was given to Prabhu in the last week. Also, technological experts from Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, etc have been invited to inspect the tracks and develop equipment to detect cracks.
Recently, Prabhu had said that the ministry was working on several key measures to save the lives of people travelling through trains. “Safeguarding commuter’s lives is the topmost priority of railways. We have introduced several technologies in the railways. Wait for some time, some positive results would start coming.”
According to Ministry data, Railways witnessed 39 train mishaps in the last three years from 2014 to 2016, in which about 450 people have been killed and above 800 injured.