For the metamorphosis of Poor-Quality Rail-Tracks with high Train-Derailment Risks to High-Quality Rail-Tracks with low Train-Derailment Risks, massive Capital Investment Schemes of long-term certainty in conjunction with organizational Reshuffles and Restructurings are required.

There is no other country around the globe other than India, from where so many nasty and fatal Train Derailment-Disasters can be reported.

The latest fatal Derailment-Disaster is the Utkal-Express with 23 train passengers killed and over 120 injured near Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh on 19th August 2017. It is the country’s fourth major fatal train derailment-accident over the period of 10 month.

The underlying factor of the causeway to Derailment-Disasters of high mortality rates is on many routes the insufficient track quality, not matching the traffic load, due to insufficient track maintenance and renewal.

The fatal Utkal Express Derailment-Disaster reveals again the need of long-term massive capital investment schemes with long-term certainty for safety related track maintenance and renewal works on all routes of the network. The recent fatal Derailment-Disasters also reveal the need for reshuffle and restructuring the Track Maintenance works in order to eliminate the mismatch between Quality Standards as laid down and as achieved on the tracks.

HIGH RAILWAY TRACK QUALITY is a paramount factor in reducing the likelihood of unwanted and nasty DERAILMENT-DISASTERS; see technical railway paper RISK BALLANCE MODEL; Category: SAFETY & RISK MANAGEMENT. On a High Quality Rail-Track the likelihood of a Derailment will be nearly ZERO. Track quality has to match with the traffic load, which the tracks have to carry; if not matching, it comes to the nasty, unwanted and fatal Derailment-Disasters killing and injuring train-passengers.

To tolerate a low quality track or to let the tracks run down, just to keep the trains running on the lowest possible track-quality level, next to the threshold of a Derailment, is not only risky but also very costly. The maintenance expenditures for a poor-quality track can be about 10 fold higher than for a high-quality track.  It is not only risky but highly uneconomical to render a railway service on poor-quality tracks not matching the traffic load.

Global Trends in Track Technologies for HIGH QUALITY RAILWAY TRACKS are elucidated in the technical railway paper GLOBAL TRENDS IN TRACK TECHNOLOGIES, submitted for the International Technical Seminar of I.P.W.E. (India) held on 20th July 2017 at New-Delhi; Category: RAIL TRACK ENGINEERING.

India has to invest far more in Track Quality on all of its routes, not only on prestigious routes for Semi-High Speed. Before going for dedicated High-Speed Trains, the routes for the daily travelling train-passengers have to be made safe.

The UNDERFUNDING and the backlog in LONG-TERM CAPITAL INVESTMENT SCHEMES with long-term certainty in Safety related infrastructure and rail-track works ail Indian Railways.

Without the INPUT in form of massive Capital Investment Schemes of long-term, certainty for Safety and Track Quality related works, and without an organisational reshuffle and restructuring the maintenance works the aim: “The ultimate Goal to prevent Railway Accidents” will not be reached.

The Responsibility has to be fixed at the Indian Government for not allocating sufficient funds with long-term certainty to bring the quality of the tracks in line with the stress and strain exerted by the increased traffic load, as well at the Organisation of Indian Railways for failing in eliminating the organisational shortcomings to bring the prescribed Quality Standards on all tracks of the network.

Several routes have to be better protected against Land-, Earth-, Rock- and Mud-Slides. And for this also more money is needed.

The costs of improving SAFETY all arise immediately, but the benefits emerge only in long-term.

For more information download:TRAIN ACCIDENTS IN INDIA PART I PDF



 The recent increased spate of killed and injured Train Passenger in unwanted nasty Train Disasters in India is alarming.

A German Safety Expert recently stated that he differently knows none country around the globe than India, from where so many nasty Railway Accidents with such high mortality rates could be reported.

An underlying factor of the causeway to Derailment-Disasters of high mortality rates is zhe insufficient track quality on many routes

 RISK is the product of probability that an incident will occur, the impact that it will have and the harm it produces.

In traffic environment, Risk cannot be reduced to ZERO. There is nothing in this technical world around the globe, which might be safe to fail. The “ZERO ATTITUDE” is illusory. It is not possible to bring the likelihood of the occurrence of unwanted bad incidents to zero. In a balanced way, the likelihood of bad incidents should be reduced, impacts of the incidents should be mitigated, and the harm, the incidents produce, should be damped as far as possible.

About 40 to 42% of the Train Accidents in India are associated with the elements of Human Error, Fallibility, Malfunction, Laps and Slips. And about 46 % of the Train Accidents are associated with Train-Derailments, latter mostly due to in-service failures of rolling stocks and track-components.

The RISK of fatal Train-Derailments on Indian Railways is unacceptable high!

The impact and produced harm of the prevailing risky conditions, of a far reaching history, – the present high rate of killed and injured Train-Passengers in unwanted nasty Train Accidents/Disasters – are not acceptable!

The Ultimate Goal for IR should be to bring down as far as possible the rate of killed and injured train-passengers in Train-Disasters.

In the last decades, India has squeezed increasing capacity out of the rail network without answering the increased strain and stress on the rail-roads with adequate increase of capital investment in track repairs, maintenance, strengthening, upgrading, rectifying and renewal. The unbalance or mis-match between traffic-load and investments has resulted in increasing in-service failures of track-components and hence resulted in increased risks of nasty and unwanted derailment-disasters with high mortality rates.

The UNDERFUNDING is a PREVAILING LATENT UNSAFE CONDITION or LATENT FAILURE within the ORGANIZATIONAL SYSTEM INDIAN RAILWAYS (see J. Reason Doctrines), from where the fatal derailment-disasters arise, or which promote/produce the unwanted and nasty derailment-disasters with high mortality rates. In the light of the James Reason doctrines, fatal derailment-disasters are “ACCIDENTS IN WAITING”.

Hence, the recent fatal DERAILMENT-DISASTERS are the outcome of ORGANIZATIONAL FAILURES, for which the Government and the Management are responsible. According James Reason, Safety Management is essentially an organizational control problem.

Even today the political leadership and organizational management is much more focused on pushing faster and more luxury trains on the current rail grid than to look on the quality and capacity of the rail tracks.

The spate of recent DERAILMENT-DISASTERS indicates, that the technical organisation INDIAN RAILWAYS has failed to keep all its rail-tracks on a high quality level matching with the increasing traffic load they have to carry, and hence with the increasing stress and strain the traffic load exerts. According the metaphors of James Reason the mischief’s and unhappy endings have to be categorised therefore as ORGANIZATIONAL ACCIDENTS (ORGAX).

A successful drive to improve operational Safety through technological upgrades in order to enhance safety and minimize risk demands massive Capital Investment Schemes with long-term certainty. This has to be on the top agenda.

The priority for this Ultimate Goal should rank higher than the deployment of High-Speed on dedicated routes or Semi High-Speed in combination with an increase of axle-load under a mixed traffic-regime/scheme on selected routes of conventional infrastructure.

The Risk-Balance Model renders in Railways a strategy to manage Safety and Risks on an acceptable level as low as reasonably.

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With the topic of the International Technical IPWE Seminar, held 12&13th January 2017 at Mumbai:

“Challenges in Design and Maintenance of Track under Mixed Traffic Regime of Semi High-Speed and heavy Axle-Load”

an invitation to the ingenuity of Indian`s Track Experts had been launched to come forward with technical solutions, how the different track-structure requirements for Freight-Train Axle-Load Increase and Passenger-Train Speed Increase can be compiled and how this ambiguous programme can be technically achieved on India`s busy rail-corridors.

Between the lines of some presented Technical Papers, one can read that some experts are NOT so happy with the ambiguous concept of a compiled programme to increase the Axle-Load of Freight-Trains up to 25 t under a “Mixed Traffic-Regime” on on-and-the-same-route of Indian Railway`s conventional track structures simultaneously with the deployment of higher Speed Passenger-Trains running up to 160 kmph.

Measurements to improve operational flexibility without simultaneous Axle-Load and Train-Speed Increase are not yet fully out-bidden. There is still room on IR to increase the transport-capacity and to reduce the journey-time of passenger-trains between major cities, resp. to speed up intercity-links, before IR has to push ahead for a MIXED TRAFFIC-REGIME with higher Axle-Load simultaneously with Semi High-Speed – a costly SIMULTANEOUS PROGRAMME, the implementation of it will become long-term highly Capital-Investment intensive.

The question, Semi High-Speed YES or NOT on India`s busy corridors, is not under dispute. It is disputed, if it is prudent to combine on India`s busy rail-corridors Freight-Train Axle-Load Increase with the Passenger-Train Speed Increase. The message is to increase Train-Speed gradually without simultaneous Axle-Load Increase.

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Demand for Attendance-free “fit-and-forget” Rail-Fastening on envisaged Indian Railway`s “Semi High-Speed” Routes – Pandrol Fast-Clip an advisable Solution

Indian Railways is fastening the Rails on Concrete Sleepers over its entire network with the so-called MARK III Elastic Rail Clip (ERC), which had been evolved with a modified spatial bend by RDSO from the left-handed Pandrol 401 Series with an anti-clockwise bend of the rod.

The MARK III ERC is far away from being “fit-and-forget”. Each and everywhere on the IR network one can detect loose or fallen off ERCs. Regular controlling by a patrolling key-man is needed to push back loose or fallen off Elastic Rail Clips into the tunnel of the shoulder plate/housing.

To increase the Speed of Passenger-Trains to 160 kmph on existing Routes is a long-term corporate objective in India based on policy initiative. The risk of patrolling key-men on duty increases over-linear with the train-speed. Rails on tracks envisaged for 160 kmph “Semi High-Speed” routes demand a “fit-and-forget” attendance-free Fastening System without the regular need of a patrolling key-man pushing back loose or fallen off Elastic Rail Clips (ERC).

Worldwide the Pandrol Fast-Clips are increasingly superseding the right-handed Pandrol Brand e-Clips resp. left-handed 400 Series Clips. This Fast-Clip takes a trumped around the globe especially in England, Germany, France, Poland, Sweden, Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Russia, Serbia, Hungary, Corsica, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Malaysia, Saudis, Australia, China and USA.

With Fast-Clips no patrolling key-man will be needed. This ERC is an advisable solution when it comes to a track renewal or upgrade for envisaged “Semi High-Speed” routes.


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“PROACTIVE MAINTENANCE STRATEGIES AND LIFE CYCLE COST MANAGEMENT” had been the topics of the 20th International Convention: OPTIMIZING THE WHEEL/RAIL-SYSTEM – TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS FOR SAFETY, COST-EFFICIENCY AND RELIABILITY – , held at Salzburg, Austria from 15-17th September 2015 by the Österreichische Verkehrswissenschaftliche Gesellschaft, ÖVG. The author together with Mr. J.S. Mundrey, Consultant in Track Technology and formerly Advisor Civil Engineering, Railway Board, had the privilege, sponsored by Plasser&Theurer, to participate at this top level Track Technology Convention.

The lessons learned, prompted the author to elaborate a Preface to Chapter 11, Track Maintenance, of the drafts of J.S. Mundrey for the forthcoming 5th  edition of his handbook RAILWAY TRACK ENGINEERING – see page 360ff of the private edition INDIAN RAILWAY TRACKS – a TRACK ENGINEERING COMPENDIUM, free for download from this website under the rubric PUBLICATIONS. Excerpts one can find on the download below.

Mr. J. S. Mundrey of Rail Consult India processed the topics and the messages of the ÖVG Convention in his technical Paper “REACTIVE TO PROACTIVE APPROACH TO TRACK MAINTENANCE ON INDIAN RAILWAYS”, presented in Session I of the IPWE International Technical Seminar held on 12th & 13th January 2017 at Mumbai, as can be found on the download below.

Nasty Derailment Disasters with killed and injured train-passengers are frequent on Indian Railway`s network. Since 2014 the fatal Derailment- Disasters and the number of killed and injured train-passengers are on increase; see the technical papers “HOW MUCH SAFETY ON INDIAN RAILWAYS”, Part I and II,  and INDIAN RAILWAYS ON A RISKY COURSE”, free for download from this website.

On HIGH QUALITY RAIL TRACKS of European Railways there are no fatal Derailment Disasters with killed or injured train-passengers. What are a HIGH QUALITY RAIL TRACKS had been defined by Prof. P. Veith and Dr. B. Lichtberger, Austria, amongst others; see Technical Papers of this website.

PROACTIVE MAINTENANCE STRATEGIES in optimizing rail-roads are nowadays a tool of Modern Railways to achieve long-term High Track Quality, Safety, Reliability and Cost-Efficiency. To achieve High Quality HEAVY-DUTY ON-TRACK MACHINERIES and modern TRACK RECORDING CARS, EQUIPMENTS and DEVICES are needed.


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For a cost-benefit evaluation the question is, how much Safety on Indian Railways is wanted by the Indian Government and how much money the Government is willing to spend for it.

In a cost-benefit evaluation the question is, how much counts the value of train-passenger`s freedom from injury and bodily harm compared to the incurred losses of assets in a train-accident.

One can have the impression that in a cost-benefit evaluation, where the value of a killed or injured train-passenger does not much count, it comes overall cheaper to tolerate and bear the annual losses of assets incurred by nasty and fatal Train-Accidents rather than to spend more money on pro- active Safety related rectifying works, infrastructure and logistics.

To smash old ICF passenger coaches in Train Accidents is not much costly, since those less track-friendly running rolling stocks will be anyway replaced in future by the more track-friendly running LHB coaches. After a nasty  Accident the tracks are usually cleared and repaired within two days. The compensation granted to the next relations of killed train-passengers and spend for the injured ones are marginal low.

HIGH TRACK AND ROLLING STOCK QUALITY FOR ALL INDIAN RAILWAY ROUTES are prerequisites to bring down the number of killed and injured train-passengers in unwanted and nasty Derailment-Disasters.

To guarantee the required long-term HIGH TRACK QUALITY – the prerequisite for ZERO FATAL DERAILMENT – a modern Railway needs for track rectifying works a funding-certainty for a period of at least 15 years; best under a so-called “CAPACITY AND FUNDING AGREEMENT”; see Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siegmann, Technical University Berlin, Department of Track and Railway Operation, in RTR Special Maintenance & Renewal, p.7, July 2007, ISBN: 978-3- 7771-0367- 9, eurailpress, Hamburg, Germany.

Funding-certainty for a period of at least 15 years is a prerequisite to make the Technical Organization INDIAN RAILWAYS more resistant against DERAILMENT-DISASTERS killing and injuring train-passengers.

The costs of improving TRACK QUALITY all arise immediately, but the benefits in form of less unwanted Derailment-Disasters, where train- passengers are killed and injured, emerge only in long term.

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More trains and higher speed means more stress on the tracks. A low quality track deteriorates faster than a high quality track. Many routes are of low track-quality.

The most of the network is saturated. And 40% of the routes running at over 100% of line capacity are already over strained. There is a shortage of funds to meet track maintenance and track renewal. Under such circumstances several routes deteriorate faster than they can be maintained or repaired.

In 2014-15 the number of causalities increased with the number of Train-Derailments. This speaks for an increasing backlog in spending for maintenance and renewal.

Tracks have to match the Traffic load they have to carry. If not, they deteriorate under the strain of the traffic load, and it comes to derailments killing and injuring train-passengers.

Increased strain on the track by more trains and higher train-speed has to be counterbalanced by TRACK QUALITY. A low quality track deteriorates faster than a high quality track under given traffic load.

A Railway Track behaves like an elephant. It can tolerate for a longer period ill-treatment and negligence. But suddenly, like an elephant, the track takes revenge and runs berserk throwing trains off the track. In Derailment-Disasters Train-Passengers get killed or injured.

However, the picture is not bright. For either a lack of adequate working capital and manpower, or on account of procedural and administrative bottlenecks and deficiencies, work schedules are lagging behind.

The technical knowledge, competence, designs, specifications an working procedures/manuals/schedules for less derailment prone high quality tracks are at hand in order to bring down the number of killed or injured train-passengers in Derailment-Accidents. However, it lacks in implementations due to unsatisfactory investment-schemes, underfunding, lack of well trained manpower, not enough appropriated heavy track machinery and organisational deficiencies.

Safety will not only be achieved by appeals and circulars of Safety Commissioners or by those strong words after a bad unwanted event of politicians or ministers, who only want to demonstrate their strength.

To bring down the number of killed and injured train-passengers India needs investment-schemes resulting in high CAPITAL INVESTMENT for safety related works. By sweeping structural reforms efficiency has to be improved. More well trained manpower has to be recruited and more modern heavy track machinery for track renewal and track maintenance has to be acquired.

TRAIN-PASSENGER`s FREEDOM FROM INJURY and BODILY HARM oder|orshould rank with highest priority in Investment-Schemes. In cost-benefit evaluations for Capital Investment in Safety related works not only the losses of assets incurred by Railway Accidents, but also the socio-economical losses incurred by killed and injured train-passengers have to be considered.


To read more download: freedom-from-injuries-and-bodily-harm


On 20 th Nov. 2016 over 150 passengers got killed at a Derailment-Disaster on the Jhansi-Kanpur Link at Pukhrayan. It is the deadliest train accident in India since 1999, when the Gaisal Train Disaster claimed 290 lives. In the 6-year period between 2009-10 and 2014-15, there were a total of 803 accidents in Indian Railways killing 620 people and injuring 1855 people. 46.5% of these accidents were due to derailment of trains. The number of train accidents per million kilometres run has continuously decreased from 2009-10 to 2013-14. It again increased in 2014-15. The number of causalities also increased in 2014-15.

The Technical Knowledge, Competence, Standards and Designs are present and at hand, how to make Tracks and Rolling Stocks safe. The challenge is to realise things. Organizational Failures as
well Underfunding hamper implementing Knowledge and Competence throughout on all Tracks and Rolling Stocks. The war against hazards cannot be won only by preparing a short section between Nizzamudin and Agra for the Gatimaan Express to run with maximal speed of 160 kmph.

If there is a fatal Railway Accident, Ministers are quick to shift their responsibility for the well-being of the Technical Organisation to so-called “Frontliners” as the “Culprits for the bad unwanted event declaring “Strictest possible action will be taken against those who could be responsible for the accident”.

In modern Safety and Risk Management every unwanted bad event has to be regarded as the outcome of ORGANIZATIONAL FAILURES. A Railway Minister has to be regarded being responsible that the Technical Organisation will be navigated within the Safety Space to become increasing resistant against Human Fallibility, prevailing latent unsafe Conditions and Failures in the System. He has to be regarded being responsible that the recourses are allocated in the everlasting war for more Safety in order to achieve the ULTIMAT GOAL TO PREVENT RAILWAY ACCIDENTS by a good management and practice. Upper echelons want to see more and faster trains running and revenues coming at the lowest possible expense-level rather to spend too much money in upgrading the infrastructure and maintenance for safety. It is only after a bad accident that protection comes for a short period.

The costs for fatalities are for INR relatively low. The granted compensations often even do not cover the funeral costs or the treatment-costs of injured people in private hospitals. Over the decades INR got used to live with the Railway Accidents killing and injuring people.

The technical paper delineates DEFENCE LAYERS against culminating hazards bursting into Track-Defect related Train Accident /Disaster.




In Sri Lanka there had been two collisions of the Indian build Class S11 Diesel Multiple Unit, DMU, with the rear of stationary trains. In both events the glass-fibre/polyester- resin laminate front parts shattered into pieces leaving no survival zone for the train driver. Prior to the collisions there had been doubts about the CRASH WORTHINESS of this glass-fibre/polyester- resin laminate front construct without any sturdy crash-energy absorbing or dissipating elements or skeletons and without any anti-climber modules. But the early warnings have not been taken serious by the competent authorities. Part II of this feature article deals with international crash-norms for rail-cars, power-sets and multiple unites for the driver`s passive protection in case of a collision with a heavy object. The article informs about crash-worthy design-engineering concepts and about crash-tests and simulations.

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Crash-Energy Management

RISK & HUMAN ERROR MANAGEMENT – The Nature of Latent unsafe Conditions and the Nature of Human Error A Guide to the Ultimate Goal to prevent Railway Accidents

Around the Globe technical Organisations with a high Risk Potential in Space Technology, Aviation, Nuclear Power Generation, Oil Exploration, Land and Maritime Transportation, Railways or Chemical Production have made in recent years remarkable improvements in their Safety Records by using the Doctrines and Methodologies developed by James Reason, UK.

The following treatises had been elaborated to help Sri Lanka Railways to find a path to more Safe Train Operation and to more Professionalism in Risk & Human Error Management and Accident Investigations.

Understanding the Human Factors and the Human Error producing Conditions is essential.
Download paper:Risk-Human-Error-Management – revidier