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Railway Zones Ordered To Follow Prescribed Speed Limit In Trains Fitted With Controversial German Brakes

Special emphasis is to be given to certain aspects to prevent SPAD cases, which includes "ambush checks" of running staff by inspectors to check if protocols are being followed by loco pilots and assistant loco pilots, use of mobile phones on the run, and specific monitoring of crew regarding train control on yellow signal and train control in gradients so as to stop before a red signal.

Budget 2023-24: Railways
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The Railways on Sunday directed its zones to instruct loco pilots to follow prescribed speed limit in trains fitted with a controversial German-made braking system, a day after a preliminary report revealed that the faulty brakes were likely to have caused the Sultanpur collision.

It has also instructed the zones to monitor the loco pilots' braking techniques. After a series of complaints and accidents involving goods trains fitted with the German-made Bogie Mounted Brake System (BMBS), railway zones were last year instructed to restrict the maximum speed of loaded trains, with more than 50 per cent wagons fitted with the system, to 50 kmph on down gradients of 1 in 100, 65 kmph on level tracks of IR and 80 kmph on DFC. 

On Thursday, two goods trains collided near the southern cabin of Sultanpur district. One of the trains involved in the accident was loaded and running at 65 kmph on a route that had a downward gradient and the brakes were ineffective, an initial report said.

On Sunday, the Railways issued instructions for the zones to begin a month-long safety drive in view of increasing SPAD (signal passed at danger) cases. "Each accident shows slackness regarding one or the other aspect of the same. In view of this, an intensive Safety Drive of one month is to be launched immediately wef 19.02.2023," the Railway Board order said. 

Special emphasis is to be given to certain aspects to prevent SPAD cases, which includes "ambush checks" of running staff by inspectors to check if protocols are being followed by loco pilots and assistant loco pilots, use of mobile phones on the run, and specific monitoring of crew regarding train control on yellow signal and train control in gradients so as to stop before a red signal.

"Specific monitoring of braking techniques of LP (loco pilots) for different types of load. Working beyond stipulated hours of duty of running staff may lead to fatigue and should be prevented. It should be ensured that LP and ALP (assistant loco pilots) are given adequate outstation rest as stipulated.

Following prescribed speed restrictions by LPs of goods trains having more than 50 per cent BMBS in the rake," the order said. All wagons with BMBS are provided with twin pipe system and they are to be run in "twin-pipe mode" for higher average speed of freight trains along with more safe operations on long steep gradients. 

The BMBS was red-flagged by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in July 2022. It said a committee report found “deficiencies” in the system’s braking power.

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