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Lessons from a disaster (Relevant for GS Mains Paper II, Topic: Disaster Management)

Kanpur rail accident buzz the alarm to seek preventive and safety measures: 
A railway network that caters to about seven billion passenger trips a year poses extraordinary management challenges, the most important of which is to ensure that all journeys end safely. 
The derailment of the Indore-Patna Express in Kanpur, with the death toll at least 146, is a stark reminder that India’s strained railway system can be unpredictably risky.

Need for an effective safety mechanism:
The Ministry, which has recorded an average of 50 derailments a year over the past four years and a peak of 63, needs to engage in a sustained effort to win back public confidence. 
There are several elements to safety, of which the integrity of the tracks, signalling, engines and coaches need to be rigorously audited.

Internal investigations by the Commissioners of Railway Safety have found human error to be responsible for 70 per cent of serious rail accidents, which underscores the importance of training and adherence to strict operational discipline.

In the Patna Express accident, the focus is on whether there were flaws in the track, the speed at which the late-running train was being driven, and the role played by coach design in leading to high fatalities.

Major reforms suggested by Specialist committees:
Specialist committees on safety and restructuring have recommended major reforms:
1. Creation of a statutory safety authority
2. Speedy replacement of ageing coaches with modern LHB designs
3. Revamped management that keeps its focus on core train operations

In budget this year, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu promised that all zonal railways would have ultrasound flaw detection machines by March 2017 to test track quality.

What is Ultrasonic Testing?
Ultrasonic testing (UT) is a family of non-destructive testing techniques based on the propagation of ultrasonic waves in the object or material tested. In most common UT applications, very short ultrasonic pulse-waves are transmitted into materials to detect internal flaws or to characterize materials. A common example is ultrasonic thickness measurement, which tests the thickness of the test object, for example, to monitor pipework corrosion.

Ultrasonic testing is often performed on steel and other metals and alloys, though it can also be used on concrete, wood and composites, albeit with less resolution.
It is used in many industries including steel and aluminium construction, metallurgy, manufacturing, aerospace, automotive and other transportation sectors.

 



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