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Speeding inferno's

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Public Transport

Kolur, a regional sales manager in a private firm, said he and others saw rats running around the coach. “We even had an argument with the TTE on the poor condition of blankets given to us and the rats,” he told Express. He said many passengers believed the rats may have chewed into the wires and helped cause a short circuit that led to the fire.

Railway officials, who wished to remain anonymous, concurred with Sanjeev’s suspicion. “It is possible that rats chewed into the wires and exposed them,” an official said.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here.

The last time I travelled in a train, I too had to spend a sleepless night because of rats running all over the AC compartment (I lodged a formal complaint - but, nothing ever came off it). After that, I have switched largely to Volvo bus services for long distance, overnight, travels (to Kochi, Chennai, Madurai, Hyderabad, etc), whenever I couldn't manage a moderate fare for air travel. But, after the two Volvo buses going up in flames resulting in a number of fatalities, that option too became kind of dicey. I was therefore re-looking at rail travel, but by non-AC class, where the chances of fire and smoke getting you are comparatively lower. However, after reading this report, and re-living the nightmare (literally) in the company of rats, I think I'll have to settle ultimately for the Volvo, in the hope that the bus operators have now become more aware of safety aspects involved.

Well, what I am essentially saying is that I'll trust the private bus operators to respond to the needs of the times, even if they belong largely to what I call the "riff-raff sector", far faster than the Indian Railways and the SRTC's - the government monopolies that they are. And, for safe, clean, timely, value for money kind of services, both rail-based and road-based, the answer very clearly lies in facilitation of the entry of professional private players, all operations duly regulated by a properly constituted governmental body (related debates on rail may be accessed here, and on bus here).

Muralidhar Rao


blrpraj's picture

appalling diregard to saety and criminal negligence

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All in all, there is appalling disregard to safety whether it is a bus accident or a train accident. Such things regularly happen on a very common basis and is considered as normal.

Here are the shocking things

1) There is no central investigative authourity like the US equivalent of NTSB to investigate commercial vehicle accidents (bus, truck, train etc.). DGCA is there but it investigates Air accidents only.

2) There is no corrective action put in place. For example why are automatic fire suppresants and fire retardant systems not in place on all trains and buses? Has any design change recommendation been proposed and put in place for the railway coaches after these accidents?

Just to throw things in perspective if folks don't know; Japan introduced bullet trains in 1964 (much before most of us were born) and have ZERO fatalities in 48 years of operation (yes, that is true, i am not playing tricks here, ZERO fatalities). If we have Zero fatalities or injuries in Indian Railways in 48 hours or 48 days that itself is a major achievement.


Anyways, for now, people just accept is as fate saying ...idella agotte bidi saar, yen maadbhodu? and move on. This, i guess, sadly  is a population control measure.



blrpraj's picture

more on the Japanese bullet train referenced in my pervious post

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Key facts of the Japanese bullet train

- As of 2012 they have carries 7 billion passengers. That is equivalent of carrying the populaion of the entire planet. 

- They have been in operation since 1964, which makes it 50 years since operation.

- ZERO fatalities or injuries due to a derailment.

I have heard many positive things about Japan. I salute this country because they have fought all odds like earthquakes and the fact that 2 of their cities were obliterated with nuclear bombs in 1945 to achieve this. Can  India learn something from Japan... Even 1% ??? 



murali772's picture

plainly, a lack of accountability

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The recent accidents and resultant fire in Volvo buses may have put the spotlight on the lack of awareness about safety precautions to be followed on buses. However, nearly six months after the Mahbubnagar tragedy, the accidents seem to be forgotten and also the need for better safety mechanisms. “Immediately after the accidents, I travelled to Mumbai by SRS Travels in December. We were shown videos on where the emergency exits and the fire extinguishers were located,” said Reema Khanna, a communications manager in a private firm. However, no videos were shown aboard KSRTC and SRS buses she travelled on between January and April, she complained. Vatsal Mehta, a software engineer with Accenture, recalls his recent trip to Mumbai. “VRL showed us a video of their achievements and a movie, but nothing about safety precautions or what to do during an emergency,” he said. KSRTC MD Manjunath Prasad, however, claims that videos explaining where the emergency exits are located and how they can be accessed are being shown on buses. Neither Transport Commissioner K Amaranarayana nor Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy were able to confirm whether the instructions were being followed, citing election preparation and model code of conduct.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here.

So, election code of conduct coming in the way of enforcing basic safety procedures? Can there be more ridiculous explanations than that? Absolute and total lack of accountability - that's what it is.

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