Now, railway passengers have a reason to cheer, South Eastern Central Railways is introducing a fire and smoke detection system to improve safety in coaches.
“It has been long since railways have been trying to introduce a substantial safety system, and the installation of fire and smoke detection system, will now solve the problem. As air-conditioned coaches are more prone to fire accidents due to no ventilation, the system has been put on trial and error process, limiting it to the trains that are fully air-conditioned,” chief public relations officer, R K Agrawal told TOI.
Agrawal added, “The system is capable of checking and raising alarm during the initial stages of fire, thereby, giving valuable time for shifting to safe areas and evacuation.”
The automatic system is based on Very Early Warning Smoke Detection System (VEWSD) strategy to detect smoke/fire at incipient stage of smoke, fire through continuous multipoint sampling and analysis of coach environment.
“Fully air-conditioned trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi, August Kranti, Gareeb Rath and Duranto Express all pass through Raipur, Bilaspur or other stations in Chhattisgarh. While, initially only AC trains will get this facility, eventually, all trains would have the phase-wise safety system, after the commercial production begins,” Agrawal said.
The four alarm levels called alert, action, fire-1 and fire-2 will signify the severity of fire. During the trial method, two actual fire incidences were detected by the system in two coaches of Bhubaneshwar Rajdhani and timely warning saved loss of property and life.
Research Design & Standards Organization (RDSO), a research wing of the ministry of railways, is working on the air-brake system of the coaches, so that in the event of fire-2 alarm, trains hault before the hooter is sounded. “It will ensure that passengers can safely get off the train without much panic. The system will be installed in all the AC trains within this year.”
Girdhari Agrawal, a passenger, who was engulfed in smoke billowing from his AC compartment of Gareeb Rath Express train, a year ago, said, “It reminded me of the bollywood flick ‘Burning Train’. I almost imagined the whole train in fire. I immediately pulled the chain and awakened the attendant. It could have triggered a major fire accident. Had this system been there, the train would have automatically halted and an alarm would have been raised.”