To minimise casualties after derailments, the Railways are contemplating switching over from indigenous ICF coaches to German technology based LHB coaches in all mail and express trains as a safety measure.
LHB (Linke Holfmann Bush) coaches made of stainless steel have more inbuilt safety features as they can absorb shock and impact of derailment more effectively and as a result do not topple, thus reducing the loss of lives in case of accident, said a senior Rail Ministry official.
LHB coaches manufactured in the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala are mostly used in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains while other mail and express trains are equipped with conventional coaches built in the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Chennai. ICF coaches are made of normal steel.
"Recently Guwahati Rajdhani and Bhubaneswar Rajdhani trains got derailed but not a single injury was reported let alone any casualty," said the official.
"But in case of Jnaneshwari Express", added the official, "ICF coaches were toppled on to the adjacent track which led to a collision with a moving goods train, resulting in heavy casualties.
"Had it been LHB coaches, these might not have toppled in such a severe way," said the official.
While an ICF AC coach approximately costs Rs 1.5 crore, a LHB AC coach costs about Rs 3 crore.
With about 50 new trains introduced every year, there is a demand of 2,500 coaches annually.
Kapurthala Rail Coach Factory, which produces about 300 LHB coaches a year, has been given the target of 500 coaches next year.
"Our aim is to run all mail and express trains with LHB coaches as a safety measure which cannot turn turtle in the event of any derailment or collision," said the official adding, "The conventional coaches have to be replaced in phases."