Standards of high reliability organizations to be introduced in Railways

KARACHI: Divisional Superintendent Pakistan Railways Karachi Muhammad Hanif Gul on Wednesday said irretrievable human loss, irreparable rolling stock damages, expenditures worth hundreds of millions in post accident payment on claims and repair/maintenance are some outcomes of major and minor train accidents happened during last few years.

Speaking as keynote speaker in a seminar held over the topic “Safety of Train operations” at DS office Karachi, he said concerted efforts at multiple management, operational and technical levels are direly required to restore the public’s full confidence over this mode of journey, said a news release.

The seminar was attended by all the divisional and assistant officers, train examiners, permanent way inspectors, train guards, and related operational staff.

The seminar highlighted three probable causes of train accidents: Track conditions, rolling stock issues and human error/failure. The last of them was described as the most frequent cause as multiple issues causing train accidents fall in the category of human error or failure.

“Accidents do happen and cannot be completely eradicated but its the high time to introduce the concept of High Reliability Organization in Pakistan Railways alike nuclear and aviation industry where the accidents have been reduced to zero or minimal possible number” stated the divisional superintendent Karachi.

He added that restructuring the safety related SOPs of Pakistan Railways in line with the standards of high reliability organizations could bring substantial improvements in managing the safe operation of its passenger and freight trains.

Some other causes for accidents or incidents like derailments described in seminar were: non-observation of automation, poor maintenance of track, casual attitude of staff, improper utilization of essential staff, non-capacity building of officials and scarcity of material.

Few short term measures to be taken for curbing the recurring accidents are: installation of safety devices, provision of sufficient operations’ staff, surprise safety inspections of mail and goods trains, timely reporting and rectification of minor issues or faults in equipments and enhancing the capacity of railways’ training centres.