Hi Friends,

Even as I launch this today ( my 80th Birthday ), I realize that there is yet so much to say and do.

There is just no time to look back, no time to wonder,"Will anyone read these pages?"

With regards,
Hemen Parekh
27 June 2013

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Why always a " High Level Inquiry " ?

Yesterday , there was a train accident in Andhra Pradesh when 41 persons died
This was the THIRD such serious train accident in past 3 months

May be twentieth such accident in past 10 years

Railway Minister has ordered a " high level inquiry " ( apart from usual ex-gratia payments )

Being an ignoramus, I wondered, " Why a high level inquiry ? Why not a low level inquiry ? "

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks !

All those previous " high level inquiry " reports are already on the server of the Railway Ministry , in word format

All that the committee appointed for this purpose has to do is :

*  Change the Date / Time / Location of the accident

*  Change the name of the train

*  Change the appendix carrying the names of the victims

*  Change the names of the members of the Inquiry Committee ( mostly unnecessary ! )

*  Change the date of submission of the report

In fact , by the time the Members of the Inquiry Committee return to Delhi , after inspection of the accident site , the departmental data-entry operator has already made these changes and kept the print out ready for the signature of the Members !

Now , who says , Railway Ministry is inefficient ?

Should however, Shri Suresh Prabhu be interested in a " LOW LEVEL SUGGESTION " for " how to prevent train accidents " , I request him to read once again , my following email ( 20 Nov 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  !


23  Jan  2017

www.hemenparekh.in / blogs