Safety on trains cannot wait

I was trying to imagine the ill fate of those 32 who perished in the Tamil Nadu Express fire today morning. What wrong could they have done, to have found themselves on the S11 coach of the train? The scenes of the fire were rather gory, pictures seen across the media houses of the country over the course of this day. Many more have been injured, some miraculously escaped through the skin of their teeth and the rest were not lucky enough to get through this. For a railway network, which focusses on new trains to the home state of the railway minister amongst other states and some other measures, safety could be one of the core issues which might require an urgent look in and addressed in the truest of senses.
This is not an attempt to point fingers at the Railway Ministry or the officials in the Railways or even the government over their usually callous attitude to everything that happens around them. But this incident could have happened in a general compartment next door (since S11 should be presumably next to the general compartment, in a 24 coach train such as the Tamil Nadu Express) instead and it could have been catastrophic. I believe, that at any point in time, there are atleast 150 people, if not less travelling in these general compartments. That is no way a justification that something like this could happen in a sleeper compartment and we be mum over the issue.
I had read a couple of months ago, at the prospect of introducing fire proof coaches in the mails and express trains of the Indian Railways. Tamil Nadu Express, being a priority train for the government (Yes, there are always trains from a state which have higher priorities over the others. For ex: 12623/24 Trivandrum – Chennai Mail has a priority over every other train running in that section) should have been one of the first beneficiaries of this, had the implementation been properly executed on the ground. And maybe, this article may have never even come up here. Railway authorities may point out that the number of accidents have decreased – as they have tried to show here right after the accident, but there still is room for making sure this issue of safety completely foolproof to a very good degree.

Unified Terminals and the easyJet Model

Two interesting articles on Airport Business, in my set of reviews for today.

One talking on the emergence of Amsterdam Schiphol as a major force in Europe and on their vision for sustainable growth. Schiphol has been a pioneer of the one – terminal concept – one of the factors, to which they attribute their success over the years gone by. Innovations in ground handling, recognizing the need for making frequent flyer friendly facilities for passport control and realizing the need for the airport to play a vital role in the growth story. What also caught my interest is the response by a certain, Roshan Lal who tries to talk on the present Indian context of the airports scene. Read the full article here.
The second one talks on the success story of the easyJet business model. Contrary to the other low cost airlines, easyJet intends to directly compete with the legacy carriers by focussing its services on the primary airports instead of the secondary and regional terminals situated elsewhere. The model has worked well for the airline which has grown from being a UK centric carrier to have bases on a pan European basis, the latest being in Lisbon. Read the full article here.
As for my research, Schiphol and the easyJet model could be perfect, if only they complied with my requests for an interview and subsequent observations into their respective cases. Low cost airlines need to ensure their sustainability and that will come about only if they serve airports with larger possible capacities – a reason why I believe the easyJet model makes sense than the conventional Southwest to me. Sure, Southwest has been an inspiration for almost any airline to dream of flying low cost, but it needs to be understood that times such as this, call for a rethink and a re-evaluation of strategies.

Copenhagen Trails

Copenhagen was amazing. And it sure reiterates the difference that people speak about when Scandinavia comes into their minds. Despite the fact that it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, locking heads with Oslo (Norway), it is every bit worth the experience. The tall sloping roofs as seen above are a highlight to counter for the snow, the city is mad about cycling (55% copenhageners commute by cycles, and that’s about 800,000 people daily). More pictures and details in the subsequent posts.

BRT Transmilenio : Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, the capital of Colombia is home to the pioneer of Bus Rapid Transit with the BRT Transmilenio. Handling about 1000 buses in the peak hour with real time dynamic scheduling, average speeds in the range of 28-40 kmph, a whole lot of innovative inter-modal transportation features. And that is not it. Watch the video to know how Transmilenio has changed the realms of Mass Transit in Latin America and possibly the world.

Guangzhou, China: "Winning the future" with BRT

In the first in a series of many-to-come reviews on Sustainable Transport, here is the story of Guangzhou, China. Guangzhou – for those who don’t know or haven’t yet heard of it, is the main city in the fastest growing economy, in the fastest growing province of the fastest growing country in this world for the last 30 years.And much of its success is due to its rapid strides in the field of sustainable urban transportation. So much so, that Guangzhou is the winner of the Sustainable Transport Award of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) for the year 2011.
The video below shares the success story of the Guangzhou Bus Rapid Transit project, one of the largest bus rapid transit systems in Asia. It also explains why the Guangzhou BRT is where it stands right now, at the top of the world in an effort towards sustainable transport and “winning the future”. India and also the many other developing countries, who are pinning on the Bus Rapid Transit for an answer towards sustainable transport needs to study the Guangzhou model in detail.