Bogie mounted air brake system for coaches

Railway coaches sent for periodic overhaul (POH) to the railway workshop at Golden Rock are being equipped with bogie mounted air brake system replacing the normal system for effective braking and easier maintenance. The shift in the braking system is based on the recommendation of the Lucknow-headquartered Research Design and Standards Organisation, the sole research and development arm of the Indian Railways.

The bogie-mounted air brake system has been provided till now in a little over 150 BG passenger coaches that were put back into operation after the POH was done at Tiruchi workshop. This braking system has been provided in both air-conditioned and non-AC coaches.

Passenger coaches are usually sent for a POH once in 18 months to railway workshops located across the country including the one in Tiruchi which is presently engaged in a myriad of activities, including manufacture of steam locomotives and container wagons for the Container Corporation of India.

As part of POH, the braking system is being changed to bogie-mounted air brake type by carrying out necessary modifications in those passenger coaches which did not have this system, say workshop authorities.

The advantage of bogie-mounted air brake is that it provides effective braking and the system is easier for maintenance, say officials of the 87-year-old workshop which has been given a target to carry out POH of 840 passenger coaches in the current fiscal.

The authorities say newly-manufactured passenger coaches rolling out from Integral Coach Factory at Perambur in Chennai and Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala have been provided with bogie-mounted air brake system.

In addition to POH of passenger coaches, the workshop had carried out intermediate overhaul of as many as 1,100 bogies till now in the current financial year.

Keeping tracks neat and clean should be a priority for railways

Indian Railways, according to some media reports, has taken note of urgent need of keeping the railway tracks in clean condition and is doing its bit to achieve the target. However, even today the condition of the railway tracks mainly in and around some railway stations needs massive clean up on a day-to-day basis.

An official was quoted as saying: “Railways has outsourced cleanliness drive in almost every zone – incurring a huge expenditure on keeping tracks clean, particularly at station areas”. The results are not encouraging in some stations even today. One of the options would be to monitor the services of a particular outsourcing agency for a limited time and based on results, they should be changed with a better one.

Human excreta littered on tracks at most of the major stations leads to unhygienic condition in and around the railway station premises. Every railway station should have an earmarked area where all the dust and debris including human excreta should be collected, dumped and incinerated.

It is good to hear that in some railway passenger coaches, bio-digester model toilets were installed on a trial basis. Based on their success, railways had planned to install such toilets in about 2,500 trains during 2012-2013. The railways had also used vacuum discharge model of toilets which are at present used in prestigious Shatabdi Express.

According to various estimates, railways would incur an expenditure of about Rs.25 lakh per coach (per train) for converting the toilets on the pattern of airlines; it would cost about Rs.75,000 per coach for using bio-digester system, whereas an Indian version toilet would cost about Rs.3 lakh per coach. The Railways runs more than 40,000 passenger coaches across the country daily.

Responsible people overseeing the cleanliness aspect should be given more power for changing the present hiring system of contractors doing the cleaning job.

Let’s hope the bio-digester model becomes a huge success and is introduced in almost all the passenger coaches within a limited time frame. Additionally, let’s also hope the railway authorities succeed in recruiting the best of the contractors for doing the job of cleaning in the best possible manner – all leading to more and more satisfaction of the passengers.

Housekeeping service likely on more trains

Encouraged by the response, railways has decided to introduce ‘on-board housekeeping services (OBHS)’ on more running mail and express trains at the country level. The railways has already introduced this new scheme in all Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto and Garib Rath trains across the country.

According to a Railway Board official, this scheme has so far been introduced in about 300 trains, including important long-distance express trains, at the country level. Under the scheme, a team of cleaning workers are hired by railways to keep coach toilets, doorways, aisles and passenger coaches neat and clean during journey from the originating to terminating stations, he said, adding railways has been incurring huge expenditure on OBHS scheme to provide homely comforts to passengers.

Under OBHS, the cleaning staff are required to be present on board the trains concerned. Passengers can call them to clean the coaches and toilets if they find them dirty and unhygienic, he said.

According to sources, identification of trains for provision of OBHS scheme is still an ongoing process in every zone of railways. Cost of OBHS provision could vary from train to train as it depends on the number and type of coaches, sources said, adding railways has been executing ‘OBHS’ scheme on public-private partnership (PPP) basis across the country.

An ECR official said about 25 pairs of mail and express trains have been brought under the ‘OBHS’ scheme in the zone. This scheme has been implemented under all five divisions of ECR. Railways has been keeping a close watch on the performance of the cleaning workers. He said Mughalsarai, Barauni, Muzaffarpur and Dhanbad have been made main centres of OBHS scheme.

According to Danapur rail division PRO Ranjit Kumar Singh, the division has introduced OBHS scheme in most of the trains originating from Rajendra NagarTerminal, Patna Junction and Danapur stations. Railways has set up a team of railway officials to make surprise check of cleanliness on running trains.

Bio-toilets in all trains in phases

Railway track and stations will be cleaner in the days to come, with the railways deciding to install bio-toilets in all coaches in a phased manner. It, however, cautioned that the success of the project would depend upon the cooperation and discipline of passengers.

The decision comes close on the heels of an offer made by the Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh to share 50 per cent of the cost from the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The offer pertains to retrofitting bio-toilets that the railways have developed jointly with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 50,000 passenger coaches.

For this, about two lakh units will be required. Bio-toilets will be built in new coaches and the railways will bear the cost themselves. Retrofitting of bio-toilets will also involve the DRDO and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The railways will bear 50 per cent of the cost.

In bio-toilets, the waste is converted into water and gases — methane and carbon dioxide. The waste will be treated by bacteria, which are benign to humans. While the gases get released into the atmosphere, the water will be discharged after chlorination. By completely eliminating the fall of human waste on the track, bio-toilets will help in checking depreciation of coaches and track by preventing corrosion.

During field trials, it was found that passengers used the bio-toilet as a garbage bin. The toilets were blocked by various objects rendering the system non-operational. Plastic bottles, tea cups, cloth, sanitary napkins, poly bags and gutka pouches, among other articles, were found in the toilet pans.