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Airbags to help rail victims

Western Railway has bought two inflatable tubes for Rs 1.2 lakh each.

mumbai Updated: Dec 09, 2010 01:39 IST
Shashank Rao

The railways seems to have found a way to rescue people stuck inside a mangled coach during an accident -- an inflatable tube.

The Western Railway (WR) has purchased two Inflatable Rescue Airbags, which will be part of an Accident Relief Train (ART) — a two-coach train with all necessary rescue equipment and machines needed at the time of a derailment or an accident. The tube can be inflated to its maximum capacity within 5-7 minutes with the help of an electrical air pump.

The Indian Railway Board had given its approval for purchasing the inflatable tubes around six months ago.

“The idea came for the airbags was floated soon after the accident at Thane in October 2009,” said a senior Western Railway official on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media. Two persons, the motorman and a commuter, died in when a bridge came crashing down on a running train.

Bought at a cost of over Rs 1.2 lakh each, the tubes would give the railways an option of not using cold-gas cutters, which are used to cut the metal create an opening. This process is time-consuming and further risks lives of commuters.

However, this tube, once inflated, will have the capacity to take a load of more than 120 tonne. This mean, it can clear the rubble and even expand the compressed portion of the coach thus creating space for the victims to come out.

Explaining how it would work, the official said: “We need to place this tube at the location where the coach has compressed. It will be inflated using a electrical air pump. As the tube will expand, it will create enough space for the victims to come out.”

Sources said such an apparatus could have been proved useful in saving motorman T Ramachandran’s life who died in the accident at Thane.