Indian Railways is embracing virtual reality to prevent accidents
In the past few years, train derailment has been the leading cause of rail mishaps, causing more than 40 percent of the accidents that have occurred. To address this, India’s first disaster management institute is being set up on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Here, trains falling into rivers and coaches catching fire will become a common sight by December next year.
The institute is being set up at a cost of Rs 44.42 crore in the village of Hejjala, where old coaches, engines, and wagons will be used to replicate train accidents. According to PTI, a senior Railways official said,
“It will be just like the drills carried out by security personnel. It will be as real as it can get.”
The blueprint for the institute further says,
“The concept of a safety village was envisaged for augmenting theoretical classroom training with practical hands-on exercise in a real environment for training in various conditions and scenarios of accidents.”
The institute will also have virtual reality centre to analyse the accidents and the focus will be on imparting world- class rescue and medical relief training with the help of simulated teaching aids.
Positive as this step may be, it addresses just one side of the problem. With all the technological advancements in today's world, we should be able to answer why the number of accidents is increasing instead of declining. Rajendra B Aklekar, a journalist who has covered the railways for nearly 20 years, believes that the problem lies in the lack of up-gradation that should go hand in hand with changing times. In an interview with Huffington Post, he said,
"Accidents will continue to happen as long as trains run, but what we need to do is focus on how they can be reduced and how casualties can be reduced when accidents occur. The existing train design is from the 1950s when the speeds were comparatively low. Today at higher speeds, we need to upgrade the design of rail cars and coupling. We should also take a look at the various safety mechanisms like the anti-collision device and train warning protection system that have been developed but are not in use."