Passengers will not be able to use charging points in train coaches now at night hours as the Indian Railways has restricted the use of charging points at night to prevent fire accidents. The decision was taken after Delhi-Dehradun Shatabdi Express caught fire on March 13. The fire started in a coach and spread to seven other coaches.
Other cases of a short-circuit reported include the Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani, smoke emanating from the Duronto train from Allahabad Junction to Lokmanyatilak terminal station in Mumbai and other minor fires reported from the premises of coach factories, in garbage dumps and in bushes on railway property.
In order to avoid such incidents from occurring, the national transporter has decided to not just restrict night time charging point usage but also to crack down on smokers. The points used for charging mobile phones and other electronic devices for will be kept switched off from 11 pm till 5 am.
Railways is reportedly planning to propose an increase in punishment for such offenses. Currently, smokers inside the trains are punished under Section 167 of the Railways Act. Passengers who are found smoking are liable to a fine of up to Rs 100.
Carrying inflammable objects in trains is also a punishable offense under Section 164 of the Railways Act and the offender may get imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both, and a fine of Rs 500 is applicable under Section 165.
“Safety remains the focus area of Railway operations and no one should let the guard down on that front. A thorough review and rechecking of all safety measures in the running of trains need to be taken up by all concerned,” the minister said at a review meeting on “safety measures”, a statement issued by the railway ministry said.
“Keeping in mind the safety of passengers, the railways has decided to keep the charging points in trains switched off from 11 pm to 5 am,” Sumit Thakur, chief public relations officer of Western Railway was quoted in a media report saying. Note that several incidents of fire have been reported in long-distance trains due to overheating of laptops and mobile phones that were being charged at night. Thakur said that this directive is being implemented in other railway zones as well to avoid such hazards.
Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer of Central Railway also said that an intensive safety awareness drive has been launched to educate all stakeholders working in trains and at stations, as mentioned in a report in The Economic Times. CPRO of Southern Railway B Guganesan was quoted saying that all the divisions of Southern Railway have issued instructions reiterating the procedure of switching off charging points at night.
A Railways official told the daily that Railways has alerted employees, including AC mechanics to keep charging points off during the night. Authorities have also decided to conduct surprise checks and take strict action against staff if lapses are found.