New Delhi: The Railways are yet to equip all important express and mail trains with modern LHB coaches as a safety measure even as today's train derailment near Jaunpur brought the focus back on the need for replacing outdated bogies. Five persons were killed and 50 others injured when eleven coaches of Howrah-Dehradun Doon Express derailed near Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh.

"Had there been LHB coaches the severity of the accident would have been less," Railway Board Member (Engineering) AP Mishra said.

The Kakodkar committee on safety has also strongly recommended replacement of all conventional coaches with LHB coaches in experess and mail trains as a safety measure.

Admitting the need for replacement of all conventional coaches, Mishra said "Railways have plans to replace gradually all conventional coaches with LHB coaches in all express and mail trains."

The German technology-based LHB coaches are anti-telescopic and cannot turn turtle in the event of any derailment or collision. These coaches also have fire-retardant quality and advanced couplers which are comparatively safer during the accident.

Currently there are about 1000 LHB coaches and about 45,000 conventional coaches being operational railways. LHB coaches are used only in premier trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto. While it costs Rs 1.5 crore to manufacture a conventional coach, the LHB coach costs about Rs 2.5 crore.

Keeping the urgency in mind, railways have decided to manufacture about 800 LHB coaches in the current fiscal, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The LHB coaches, manufactured under technology-transfer from Germany, have automatic couplers to join two coaches. Unlike conventional coaches where one needs to go inside the coach and move through the vestibule to uncouple two coaches, these advanced couplers can be very easily uncoupled from the outside.

Citing an example, the official said, "Two years back a fire started in the pantry in Mumbai Rajdhani near Thuriya station in Ratlam. But railway staff uncoupled the three passenger coaches from the pantry immediately and the fire-retardant material used in the coaches ensured that there were no toxic fumes and black smoke that could have hindered visibility."

He said all passengers were able to come out of the coaches in time and no passenger was hurt in the fire because of LHB coaches.

Earlier also Rajdhani passengers had a miraculous escape after the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express derailed near Gaya. "The derailed LHB coaches stuck to the ground soon after the derailment instead of capsising and rolling over as a result all passengers were safe," he said.

Besides the safety aspects, the LHB coaches offer better comforts to passengers.

"The LHB coaches are fitted with microprocessor controlled high capacity air conditioning system, which gives passengers better comforts during summer and winter season," said the official.


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