Incidents of trains crushing people as well as animals under wheels are occurring almost every day. And hearing such sad news, it is quite typical that a question-why the loco pilot didn’t apply brake well in advance may come to our mind.
As general people are not familiar with the technical part associated with a loco pilot and circumstances, it is obvious that such questions will arise in their minds.
Let’s understand why a loco pilot doesn’t apply brake even if he sees people/animals on tracks.
In the case of a rider of a bike or a driver of a vehicle, for them, a minimum distance is required to apply the brake. When it comes to train, the scenario is altogether different. For a train which runs at a speed of 90 to 100 kmph, the minimum braking distance is much more than that of a bike and car.
By the time a loco pilot can see a living being on the tracks, the minimum braking distance has already been passed, making it difficult for the loco pilot to apply the brake.
It is the force exerted by the wheels on the tracks which makes the train run. To stop a train, a huge amount of force is required. Yet, a deceleration from its speed to 0 in 10 seconds is impossible.
Similarly, the topography of a particular area also plays a vital role in such circumstances. Because of the curvature of the earth, at times, the visibility on tracks is not more than 750-850 metres, making it difficult for the loco pilot to apply brakes in time.
All of us know trains don’t have seat belts as planes have. So if the loco pilot applies a hard brake, it will cause discomfort to passengers. They may topple over each other. Worst, this hard breaking may result in derailment. The damage can well be imagined.
This is why a loco pilot doesn’t stop his train even if he sees people or animals on the tracks.
However, there are incidents when loco pilots by showing their presence of mind saved many precious lives.
For example, Sushant Pradhan, a loco pilot hailing from Arunpur village under Ramagada Panchayat in Ganjam district, saved the life of an elderly man who was crossing the tracks at Kalyan station in Mumbai on July 25, 2021.
Seeing the elderly man get stuck on the tracks, Pradhan thought on his feet and applied emergency brakes but judiciously. The train came to a halt with the old man coming under it. Later, the old man was pulled out from under the train, unhurt.
The Ministry of Railways had then shared the video of the incident, heaping praise on Pradhan. Netizens had too flooded social media with words of appreciation for Behera.