In the wake of the fire mishap in Rajdhani Express, railways are planning to introduce in general mail and express trains German technology-based linke holfmann bush (LHB) coaches which have fire-retardant quality and advanced couplers. Currently LHB coaches are being used only in premier trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto.
"We are planning to introduce LHB coaches in mail and express trains in a gradual manner as these coaches are equipped with fire retardant material and advanced couplers to join coaches," said a senior Railway Ministry official.
While it costs Rs1.5 crore to manufacture a conventional coach, the LHB coach costs about Rs2.5 crore. LHB coaches are anti-telescopic and cannot turn turtle in the event of any derailment or collision, the official said.
The LHB coaches, manufactured under technology- transfer from Germany, have automatic couplers to join two coaches. Unlike conventional coaches where one needs to go inside the coach and move through the vestibule to uncouple two coaches, these advanced couplers can be very easily uncoupled from the outside.
Within minutes after the fire started in the pantry in the Mumbai Rajdhani near Thuriya station in Ratlam on Monday, railway staff uncoupled the three passenger coaches from the pantry. The fire-retardant material used in the coaches ensured that there were no toxic fumes and black smoke that
could have hindered visibility.
"All passengers were able to come out of the coaches in time and no passenger was hurt in the fire because of LHB coaches," said the official.
Earlier also Rajdhani passengers had a miraculous escape after the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express derailed near Gaya. "The derailed LHB coaches stuck to the ground soon after the derailment instead of capsising and rolling over as a result all passengers were safe."
Besides the safety aspects, the LHB coaches offer better comforts to passengers. "The LHB coaches are fitted with microprocessor controlled high capacity air conditioning system, which gives passengers better comforts during summer and winter season," said the official.
Railways have plans to manufacture 3,500 coaches including 500 LHB coaches in the current fiscal.