"Even though Railways uses fire retardant materials for furnishings in coaches, fire accidents on trains continue to be reported. Therefore, we have decided to further upgrade our preparedness for fire prevention and suppression," a senior Railway Ministry official said.
As per the plan, the Rail Budget 2013-14 will have proposals for installing sprinklers in pantry and power cars in as many express and mail trains.
While initial trials for fire and smoke detection system on LHB AC coaches have been completed, Railways has planned to provide such system on more rakes for extended field trials.
"We are planning to provide latest technology fire suppression system on certain coaches including pantry cars and power cars which are more fire prone," said the official.
Expressing concern over frequent incidents of fire mishap on trains, the Standing Committee on Railways has asked the state-owned enterprise to find methods with the help of technology and experts to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
The parliamentary panel has also asked the national transporter to install automatic fire alarm system in all trains immediately.
A sleeper coach of Tamil Nadu Express had caught fire on July 30 last year claiming 32 lives. In October 2012, a woman and child were killed when a coach of Falaknama passenger train caught fire.
Recommending help of latest technology, the committee has asked the Railways to explore the possibility of adopting best practices in fire fighting exercise available in other countries.
"Fire retardant furnishing materials are being used in upholstery for seats and berths, AC coach curtains and floorings," the official said, adding "pantry cars are identified as fire prone coach due to presence of cooking arrangement and high power electrical equipment."
Accordingly, Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) has been advised to develop specification for suitable fire suppression system for these pantry cars.
Currently, pantry cars are provided with four fire extinguishers which may not be adequate in handling major fires.
Our efforts are to make fool-proof arrangement to prevent fire in trains and for that we will install latest fire fighting equipment in fire prone coaches, the official said.