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SIGNAL FAILURE PROTOCOLS IN RAILWAY OPERATIONS



  Jun 26, 2024

SIGNAL FAILURE PROTOCOLS IN RAILWAY OPERATIONS



OVERVIEW

Recent train accidents in India have highlighted significant confusion and issues in the protocols for train operations during signal failures, particularly in areas with automatic signaling systems. These incidents have underscored the need for clear and effective Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure safety and prevent further accidents.

BACKGROUND

Major Incidents

1. Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express Collision (June 2, 2023): Resulted in about 300 deaths and over 900 injuries.
2. Waltair Division Collision (October 29, 2023): Caused the deaths of 17 passengers.
3. Kanchenjunga Train Accident (June 17, 2023): Resulted in 10 deaths and numerous injuries.

In each case, signal failure or confusion over train operating protocols during signal failures was suspected to be the primary cause.

CURRENT ISSUES

Confusion Over SOPs

• TA-912 Order: The Eastern Railway issued and then quickly withdrew an order banning TA-912, a travel authority that allows loco pilots to cross signals showing red during signal failures.
• Western Railway Clarifications: The Western Railway sought clarifications on the protocols for travel authorities during automatic signaling failures, citing contradictory rules in the General and Subsidiary Rules 2008 edition.

Contradictory Rules

• A senior official from the Western Railway pointed out that the rules in Chapter IX of the Automatic Block System in the General and Subsidiary Rules 2008 edition are contradictory and need critical assessment and correction.

SPECIFIC INCIDENTS

Kanchenjunga Train Accident

• Loco Pilot’s Last Words: Anil Kumar, the loco pilot, instructed his assistant to apply brakes before the collision, highlighting the critical need for clear protocols in emergencies.

ACTIONS NEEDED

Clear SOPs

• Critical Assessment: The rules regarding train operations during signal failures must be critically assessed to remove contradictions and ambiguities.
• Effective Communication: Clear communication from senior officials to staff regarding the correct procedures to follow during signal failures.

Training and Awareness

• Regular Training: Conduct regular training sessions for loco pilots and station masters on updated protocols.
• Simulation Drills: Implement simulation drills to prepare staff for real-life signal failure scenarios.

Technological Enhancements

• Automatic Signaling Upgrades: Upgrade automatic signaling systems to include fail-safes and redundancies that can minimize the risk of human error.
• Real-Time Monitoring: Utilize real-time monitoring systems to detect and rectify signal failures promptly.

CONCLUSION

The recent train accidents underscore the urgent need for clear, consistent, and effective signal failure protocols in railway operations. By addressing the contradictions in the current rules, providing thorough training, and leveraging technology, the railway authorities can enhance safety and prevent future tragedies.


SRIRAM’s
 
 


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