Any occurrence that does or may affect the safety of the railways, its engines, rolling stock, permanent way, works, passengers, or personnel or cause delays to trains or losses to the railways is termed an accident. It is the duty of every railway personnel to take the following actions whenever any accident comes to his notice.
(a) Take immediate steps to stop the train if it is still in motion, since any further movement is likely to worsen the situation.
(b) Provide all possible assistance in order to relieve the injured and stranded passengers.
(c) Take immediate steps to remove any obstructions or remedy the situation, i.e., do whatever one is able to do competently.
(d) Report the incident to the nearest station master by the quickest possible means.
In pursuance of the recommendations made by the Railway Accident Inquiry Committee (Sikri Committee), 1978, the Railway Board has decided that all incidents that result in mishaps should be termed train accidents. Train accidents can broadly be classified under two distinct categories.
Consequential train accidents These include collisions, derailments, accidents at level crossings, train fires, and similar accidents that have serious repercussions in terms of casualties and damage to property.
Miscellaneous train accidents These include certain types of train accidents that do not come under the first category. For example, accidents where trains run over cattle without an ensuing derailment and also accidents caused during shunting in yards/sidings.
Every accident that affects a train or is caused by a train, resulting in the loss of human life, damage to railway property in excess of Rs 2,500,000, or occurring as a result of natural causes such as landslides, breaches, floods, or derailments, and which leads to an interruption in the service of any important through line of communication for at least 24 hours is deemed to be a 'serious accident'.
Indicative accidents include those caused by breach of block rules, averted collisions, trains passing danger signals, equipment failures, and any unusual occurrences. Such mishaps are not categorized as train accidents and are known as indicative accidents.
On Indian Railways, it is a practice to sound different types of hooters according to the type of accident that has occurred, as indicated in Table 22.1.
Table 22.1 Types of accidents and corresponding hooters
* The duration of the long hoot is 30 sec and that of the short hoot is 5 sec.
Whenever there is an accident resulting in damage to any part of the permanent way and affecting the free passage of trains, the PWI and AEN of the section should proceed to the accident site as soon as possible. If possible, the men and material required to deal with the emergency should be collected on the way to the site.
In case the traffic is interrupted, the divisional engineer should also proceed to the site if the circumstances of the case at hand require his personal supervision and guidance. In the event of an accident taking place in a division at a point where assistance could be more expeditiously rendered by officials of an adjacent division, the concerned officials should be alerted. These officials should proceed to the scene of the accident immediately and render all possible assistance.