Workshop to produce one lakh brake blocks for Railways

he Central Railway Workshop here will manufacture one lakh composite brake blocks (CBB) in the current financial year to partially meet the requirements of the Indian Railways.

It is the only facility under the Railways or any public sector unit which is into mass production of the asbestos-free CBB as the bulk of its requirements are outsourced and procured from private players in the market.

The CBB units are an essential component in the braking system installed in coaches with 16 units installed per coach. They last approximately four to six months depending on the usage and the running time of the coach.

The demand for CBB is high and reckoned to be perennial given the fact that the Indian Railways operate nearly 12,000 passenger trains operated daily with an average of 14 to 18 coaches in each rake while the long distance trains have rakes with up to 24 coaches. In addition, the Indian Railways have about 4,00,000 freight wagons in its fleet.

U. Subba Rao, Chief Workshops Manager, told The Hindu that the workshop had a full-fledged facility for mass production of CBB and could ramp up production if required. “We used to produce about 60,000 CBBs to 75,000 CBBs till two years ago but the production capacity has been augmented to meet requirements,” he said.

The production is expected to stabilise at around 1 lakh CBB units now and the workshop produced nearly similar number of them in the last financial year, he added.

Though the bulk of the CBB is outsourced from private players, the presence of Mysore workshop in the market is an effort to prevent private entities from forming a cartel and dictating the price.

“Our presence and sizeable production helps keep the cost in check and if required we can also ramp up our production to meet the competition,” Mr. Rao said.

The workshop has a hydraulic press to meet the specific requirements of the CBB for railways and a pulverizer, sieving machine, gas burners, drying oven and composite power mixing plant was installed to facilitate mass production of CBBs.

The use of CBB in the rolling stock was introduced in the late 1990s in place of cast iron brake blocks as the CBB was reckoned to be environment-friendly, more durable and reliable with less noise pollution.

Even the breaking temperature of CBB was found to be low and it was considered to be less damaging to the wheels.

The Mysore workshop entered into the production of CBBs during 2002-03 after acquiring the technical know-how which was developed in-house.

Regular production of CBB for locos, coaches and freight wagons commenced during 2003-04 and even the Research Design and Standard Organisation, Lucknow, has authenticated that the product met all its specifications.

Rlys plans to switch to German coaches by ’16

The railways plans to switch over from indigenous ICF coaches to German technology based Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) ones in all mail and express trains within the next five years.The LHB coaches, which have fire-retardant quality and advanced couplers, are designed to minimize fire accidents. The move is aimed at infusing more safety measures in train operations, with railways expected to enhance production capacity of its coach factories to 2,000 LHB coaches in 2014-15 and another 4,000 in 2016-17.

The modern coaches that are made of stainless steel have more in-built safety features, and can absorb shock and impact of derailment more effectively. A senior rail official said, “The sturdy and robust design obviates capsizing of coaches in case of accidents. This helps to minimize damage and reduce the loss of lives.” The casualties in the recent Kalka derailment could have been much less if the train was running on LHB coaches, he said. The state-transporter is planning to introduce LHB coaches in mail and express trains in a phase manner by 2016-17 as they are equipped with fire-retardant material and advanced couplers.

Unlike indigenous ICF coaches, which are prone to capsize or climb on each other during a collision, the LHB bogies don’t get toppled. Apart from restricting the speed limit to 105 kmph on mail line and 110 kmph on Rajdhani tracks, ICF coaches raise safety concerns due to a large number of hanging under-gear parts. Though a traditional coach costs Rs 1.5 crore each against a LHB one that comes for Rs 2.5 crore-Rs 3 crore. The modern coaches are more comfortable, have a higher life-span of 35 years against ICF’s 25 years, and also have a 12%-15% higher passenger capacity that can raise revenue.

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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