Monday, February 19, 2007

Class barriers

One of the many thoughts that rushed through my mind on seeing today's news was this: passengers in the middle of a second-class sleeper coach have no way to get out in an emergency, because the windows are barred.

In trains I've been on in the west, the windows are large, made of glass, and some of them are removable and marked as "emergency exits". Also, a hammer is provided to break the glass if necessary.

The windows in most of our AC coaches, as well as all non-AC coaches, are too small for most adults to get out of easily. And no hammer is provided. Even so, there is some hope with the AC coaches. The second-class non-AC windows, as I said, are barred. I can see this is for reasons of security and child-safety, but really, can't our engineers come up with some sort of system of child-safe, intruder-safe, but quickly-removable bars? It can't be that hard.

Years ago, the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy in Delhi brought the issue of fire-safety of buildings to public consciousness. Buildings must have well-marked emergency exits and stairwells that allow easy movement of large numbers of people. (Though, even now, many don't.)

All aeroplanes have several emergency exits for rapid evacuation. The utility of this was most dramatically demonstrated in 2005 in Toronto, when the flight crew of an Air France plane that overshot the runway managed to evacuate it completely, mere moments before it burst into flames.

But what about emergency exits in railway coaches? Better exits may not have saved many of today's unfortunate passengers. But a few, at least, could have escaped.


Anonymous said...

As always countless people have to die before our fat bloated and mindless system sits up and take notice. Safety? eh, what's that?

km said...

passengers in the middle of a second-class sleeper coach have no way to get out in an emergency, because the windows are barred.

What? You mean an average Indian no longer knows the art of bodily contortion that would allow him to successfully slip through two steel bars 3 inches apart?

(Boy, i'd love to post that comment on Rediff.)

Tabula Rasa said...

mama, km's got his ethiopian jokes mixed up again :-\

Rahul Siddharthan said...

km - let me try a response a la rediff.

Belief is a personal aspect.Non-believers shouldn't blame body contortions,since they are not having faith.If someone wants to dismiss this finding as superstition, he/she is welcome to do that. But such persons need to realise that more indians believe in window bars than people of any other country, and they are entitled to such information. I hope the superstition bill is passed soon, so that horadecubitus can be sued for such articles.

km said...

Rahul: But you didn't tell me why Madhuri Dixit should not act in movies anymore and why India is a software superpower :D

TR:Since when did the poor Ethiopes start doing Yoga? :)