Sunday, 20 November 2016

A Case of Misplaced Priority ?

Yesterday , there was a terrible train accident near Kanpur

As per latest reports , some 100 persons got killed and around 100 got injured

Government was quick to announce a compensation of Rs 2 lakhs to the kin of those dead and Rs 50,000 to the injured

So , to the Government , apart from the loss to the property , the ECONOMIC LOSS was , approx Rs 2.5 Crore

And if someone were to fight this case in the Courts ( for next 5 years ? ) , the Court might award Rs 1 crore per dead ( loss of earning capacity at Rs 2.5 lakh per year for 40 years )

That would add another Rs 100 Crore of " Economic Cost ", to the government

But what about the  EMOTIONAL  LOSS of the bereaved family  ?

It is just not possible to attach a monetary value to the life-long sufferings of those families

I believe , we have lost ( on ave ) , some 50 lives to major train accidents , each year for the past 22 years ( not counting ave of 10 persons who get run over by Mumbai local trains , EVERY  DAY  !  )

View this in the background of Government plan to spend Rs 1,00,000 CRORES , for a Bullet Train between Mumbai and Ahmadabad, which will transport 600 persons in 2 hours , in place of the current travel time of 8 hours

So , what will we gain for this enormous " Economic Cost " ?

Some people will save 6 hours of travel time !

Even as 50 persons continue to die each year in train accidents , which are , largely preventable !

And , very likely , implementing technological solution for saving these lives  would cost , less than Rs 1,000 cr  !

Major causes of train accidents are :

#    Fractured rails ( as is suspected in the present case )

#    Loose anchor bolts

#    Sagging rails due to washed out foundation

#    Jammed track-switching mechanisms

#    Faulty Signals...etc

And , of course , " human errors of judgment "

How come such train accidents rarely happen in Developed / Advanced countries , despite the fact that their trains run 2 / 4 times as fast as ours ?

Simple answer :

They have implemented technological solutions ( Data Acquisition Devices and Software ) , which , not only monitor / detect the " faults / failures " described above , but , they alert the train-traffic management team in real time , on large screens in their TRAFFIC  CONTROL  ROOM

And , if the person watching that TRAFFIC  FAULT  SCREEN , is slow to respond ( to take a corrective action ) , the software will bring the train to a halt , on its own !

If our ISRO scientists / engineers can detect a tiny fuel leak in our rockets / satellites , from thousands of kilometers away ,- and make course correction in milliseconds ,  there is no reason to doubt their capability to find a technical solution to prevent train accidents

I have no doubt that Shri Suresh Prabhu will re-arrange his priorities  !

21   Nov   2016 / blogs

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