Indian Railways faces safety concerns as 15-20% freight trains operate without safety clearance

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The Indian railways is running an estimated of 15-20% of the freight trains across its network with an expired or invalid Brake Power Certificate (BPC).

As per sources, the Railway Board worried over the number of goods trains running operations without a valid road worthiness certificate has now instructed General Managers of all Zonal Railways to ensure that no loading is done on rakes without a valid BPC, which is a mandatory document that certifies fitness of the rolling stock for operation.

Further they are instructed to make efforts to send loaded rakes having sufficient validity period to terminals where back loading (transporting goods on return journey) is generally done.

Sadly, the issue of goods rail operating on an invalid certificate only cam up for discussion at a high-level safety review meeting convened by the Chairman Railway Board/Chief Executive Officer after the tragic train accident in Bahanaga Bazar railway station of South Eastern Railway in Odisha. The accident left 291 passengers dead and over 900 injured.

It was then brought to the notice of Member (Engineering), Railway Board, Additional Member (Traffic) and General Managers that “a large proportion [about 15-20%] of freight trains are running with invalid BPC. And, this should be reduced to nil as there is no justification to run a train with invalid BPC.

What is BPC

The Brake Power Certificate is a certificate stating the fitness of the rail for operations. It is issued to the loco pilot and guard by a Train Examiner of the Mechanical Department who inspects the rake and carries out necessary repair work. It can only be issued after a thorough check of the braking system and other safety parameters.

While the validity of the BPC can differ, the most common type is the one which is valid from the starting station to the destination. However, depending on the type of the rolling stock the validity of the same can also be longer. Like a modern rakes require less repairs.

After the validity is expired, every BPC has some grace period,  during which the loco pilot/guard are expected to inspect safety and run the train at low speed to the nearest train examination depot. As per rail officers, a freight train with invalid BPC is prone to derailment.