Safety measures on WR during kite-flying festival Uttarayan

Come Makar Sankaranti in mid-January every year, the sun starts its northwards journey called Uttarayan. This is celebrated across India. Flying of kites by one and all is a treat to watch in several parts of the country. However, the kite flying is more pronounced in the Western parts of India especially Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Western Railway(WR)  has made elaborate preparations to ensure kite flying does not happen alongside tracks. The reason: kite flying alongside tracks results in a large number of kites and kite threads getting entangled in the over head equipment (OHE) causing frequent tripping of circuit breakers at traction substations hence tripping power supply to overhead wires. They also result in cutting of strands of catenary and subsequent breakdown of OHE affecting rail traffic.

The problem has been compounded by the use of Chinese threads for flying kites which have metals in them. Hence these threads are good conductors of electricity and can cause electric shocks (OHE is energized with very high voltage of 25000 volts) to the public and railway staff. Besides, they are also very sharp to cut overhead wires.

 WR observed that these incidents are common in several stations of Gujarat during the period January5 to January 20 every year,

Hence a set of dos and donts have been issued by the Principal Chief Electrical Engineer WR headquarters to all Senior DEEs (Divisional Electrical Engineers) in charge of TrD (traction distribution) across WR.

They include

  • Publicity in newspapers/ use of pamphlets to spread awareness of the perils of flying kites near electrified sections
  • Counselling railway staff especially trackmen, gatekeepers, Loco pilots (LP), RPF, Signal maintainers and station staff on the dangers of kite/kite thread entanglement with the OHE.
  • RPF has been advised to deploy staff to prevent/discourage kite flying alongside tracks.
  • Kites/threads have to be removed only using hot line sticks or under a power block as touching the OHE is fatal.
  • Special OHE groups on foot will be deployed at areas based on past experience with adequate hot line sticks. A power block has to be taken immediately if any damage to OHE is detected by the patrolman. He has to summon a tower wagon (a self propelled vehicle which repairs and maintains OHE) with staff.
  • Detailed investigation has to be done for tripping of circuit breakers especially in areas close to the traction sub-station (the apparatus which feeds power to wires).
  • Senior DEEs in charge of traction rolling operations (overall in-charge of providing electric locos and LPs in a division) have been asked to instruct electric loco trips sheds to remove kites entangled on the loco roof. Loco inspectors have to counsel LPs on prompt reporting of this incident to the traction power controller(person responsible for continuity of power supply and allied services) and traction loco controller (person responsible for booking electric locos and running staff)  .

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