Railways are likely to consider the use of detonators | So Good News


The practice of using explosives has persisted despite advances in communications technology

The practice of using explosives has persisted despite advances in communications technology

Indian Railways is considering withdrawing a decades-old policy of guards protecting the rear of the train stopped at the home signal using explosives to prevent a collision.

Passenger and freight trains stopping at the first stop signal or a home signal in front of railway stations is a common practice due to operational reasons such as line/track availability for the incoming train. But when the detention of such trains exceeds 15 minutes, the general rules of the Indian Railways prescribe that the guard shall protect the rear of the train against any possible collision by a train approaching from behind.

The guard is required to place detonators at certain distances which will set off several smaller, loud explosions when a train passes them and alert the loco pilot of obstacles ahead. The practice continued despite advances in signaling and communication technologies over the years.

Rule 4.44 of the General Rules states that when a train after 15 minutes stops at a home signal, the guard shall continue to protect the rear of the train regardless of whether the reason is obvious or not.

The rules further explain that when a train is stopped between stations due to accident, failure, obstruction or other reason, and the driver finds that the train cannot be driven, he/she must notify the guard of this by giving the prescribed code by whistle or via walkie- talkie or other means and exchange danger signals. The guard must protect the rear of the train by placing one detonator at 600 meters and three detonators at 1200 meters (each 10 meters apart) from where the train has stopped.

In a proposal sent to the railway board, Ajoy Kumar Behera, chief executive officer of East Coast Railway, said that in day-to-day operations, there were many instances of trains, mostly goods trains, being stopped at the home signal. mainly due to lines not being available at the station to accommodate the incoming train.

In heavy-loading railways such as the East Coast Railway, there were many cases where trains were held up for more than 15 minutes at the home signal due to lack of line/track.

Big impact

“In such cases, if protection is to be done, the guard must travel up to 1.2 km to the rear of the train to place the detonators. If the home signal is taken off after the guard has gone to the rear for protection, the train must be held up for a considerable period until the guard returns to the brake car to start the train This point has a major impact on capacity [of the line] and requires clarification,” he said.

Mr. Behera said that it was felt that if the train stops at the home signal, regardless of whether the reason is obvious or not, there may be no need to protect the train at the rear after 15 minutes in the Absolute Block System.

“Although safety is paramount, the need for protection behind the guard until trains stopped after 15 minutes home signal in Automatic Territory requires scrutiny from the capacity aspect,” he said.

Since the policy decision will affect train operations across the network, the railway board has written to general managers of all zonal railways seeking their views on withdrawing or amending the rules, railway sources said.


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