Making the Rail Transport Safer

The case study is about how to make railway transportation safer. Railway transport is a means of transport wherein passengers and cargo are transported safely and on time to their destinations on vehicles running on rails (tracks). Railway transport system consists of different components such as Rolling stock, tracks, stations, tunnels, electrifying overhead line equipment, and passengers/cargo. The trains are guided by the tracks which are made up of steel and are installed on ties and ballast. The track consists of two parallel steel rails, anchored perpendicular to members called ties (sleepers) which are made of timber, concrete, steel, or plastic to maintain a consistent distance apart, or rail gauge. In addition to the rail gauge, the tracks will be laid to conform to a Loading gauge which defines the maximum height and width for railway vehicles and their loads to ensure safe passage through bridges, tunnels, and other structures.

Trains travel at high speeds compared road transport, being guided by rails which generate low friction, it is difficult to stop the trains suddenly or quickly. A signaling system is used to control the railway traffic and to prevent colliding of the trains, which is known as Railway Signaling. The area where passengers board and alight from trains are known as railway stations. The main source of income for railway companies from ticket revenue and shipment fees of cargo.

Governments also play an important role for the railway companies by providing subsidies. In some countries, the Government owns the infrastructure of the railway department. Safety plays a major role, as trains travel at speeds, and they are heavy, which becomes difficult to deviate from the track and requires large distance to stop. These might lead to accidents, such as the collision of two trains or other vehicles or pedestrians. Safety measures should be taken to avoid possible accidents. Few measures which prevent the accidents are railway signaling and gates at the crossing. Train horns which warn the presence of the train. Another important factor of the railways is the maintenance of the infrastructure. Regular maintenance of the infrastructure minimizes the effect of possible accidents.

As part of our course requirement for Safety in Design at the University of Twente, our group produced a report to gain an understanding on the safety issues and to make the railway transport safer. Our report’s objective was to identify safety issues and hazards based on previous history of accident, analyze the hazards, and finally propose safety methods in order to make railway transport safer.

The main step in any safety process for a system is the identification of hazards. Without which it is impossible to safeguard the system from risks. In this step the preliminary list of hazards is developed keeping in reference the accidents in the past from the time-line discussed in the previous section and the technological advancements in the railway system.

The following are the various hazards that are associated with the system:

• Failure of the signalling system.

• Low maintenance of the infrastructure.

• Failure of gates at the crossing.

• Failure of traffic lights during the night.

• Failure of the braking system of trains.

• Negligence of people during the crossing.

• Unauthorized person operating the locomotive.

• Weather conditions.

• Faulty door system.

• Fire or smoke.

• Breakage of connection between the compartments.

• Improper communications with the controller.

• Improper usage of infrastructure.

• Overloading of freight or passengers.

• Over-speeding of train.

• Failure of the electrical components.

• Failure in the mechanical components.

• Negligence behavior of the driver.

• Derailment at the crossings.

• Poor maintenance.

• Unhygienic compartments.

• Faulty alarm system.

• Improper design.

• Faulty or loose seat assemblies.

• Safety of passengers from criminal attacks like Hijacking.

Later we have analyzed these hazards using different methods like safety cube, risk assessment method which can be found in the report.

To view the full report

To view the Presentation Slides

Sajeed Dafedar, On behalf of group 20 (Pradeep Suresh, Vaibhav Kulkarni)