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On August 19, 13 Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches of the Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh, killing more than 20.
On August 29, nine Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB ) coaches of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailed. But there were no casualties. And this is a critical difference.
The recent spate of recent rail accidents has pushed the Indian Railways to seriously fast track the switch to LHB coaches.
LHB coaches are superior to ICF coaches for multiple reasons, including a better design of the ‘couplers’, which help join two coaches to form a rake. This design prevents ‘climbing’ or piling up of coaches during accidents.
This German technology is considered to be “anti-telescopic”, which means coaches do not get turned over or flip in case of a collision (chiefly head-on). These coaches are made of stainless steel, and the interiors are made of aluminium.
Along with all of this, there are several other safety features known to altogether make the LHB coaches significantly safer, as reported in Swarajya.
Extracts from a report, accessed by The Times of India, show that for 2014-2016, 17 trains with ICF coaches met with accidents, and this resulted in 431 deaths and 866 people injured. In comparison, the three LHB coach derailments killed four people and injured eight.
“This proves the superiority of LHB coaches over ICF coaches’. The latter is not safe for operational speeds of 100-120 kph with trailing loads of 20-24 coaches,” the report noted.
Currently, India has only 4,000 LHB coaches, which have an anti-collision technology, used in some Rajdhanis and Shatabdi trains. While railways produce 3,000 coaches every year, it phases out 1,000 coaches annually, said a report in Business Standard.