Railways still uses Raj-era cracker system to warn drivers during fog
Meerut: The threat of railway accidents increases with thick fog enveloping most of northern India during winter. The Railways in a bid to avoid such untoward incidents still use a technique from the days of the British Raj to guide locomotive drivers during fog. A cracker is tied to the railway track around 270 metres before the home signal, lights that indicate the approaching railway station, thus alerting the driver to slow down. Pressure from the train causes the cracker to burst and the resulting sound lets the driver know that the home signal is approaching.
Railway officials insist that this is an old railway custom and is completely safe. “The speed of the train is usually decided by the driver. However, they have to slow down just before they approach the railway station. During the fog, visibility is sometimes reduced to such low levels that drivers can’t even see what is directly in front of them. This is why we use crackers to alert locomotive drivers and tell them that they are approaching the station,” said city station master YK Jha.