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Old 14th November 2013, 23:40   #1
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Default Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

This is perhaps the third or fourth case of a Volvo bus catching fire.

The earliest reported one was eight years ago on the Mumbai- Ahmedabad route. It was the dead of night, many passengers could not get through the emergency exit and suffocated to death. The toll was quite high. Dozens of passengers of a Volvo bus were roasted alive when it collided with a container on the National Highway 8. The link below discussing the second major such incident, has a reference to the earliest incident.

The second one occurred on the same National Highway no. 8. This link gives details. The text does not mention Volvo but the link mentions the brand name.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiati...hemical-tanker

The third major one occurred a fortnight ago (30/ 10/2013) on the Bangalore - Hyderabad route, where again the bus caught fire during the wee hours. Many passengers were suffocated and were charred to death.The diesel tank caught fire after a hit in Mahabubnagar dist., when 45 people perished after the Volvo bus hit the median on the national highway and caught fire.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/...cle5318175.ece

Now again this is a link to the fire incident that has been reported today (2.30 am) from Karnataka. Seven passengers have been killed and 40 injured, when the Bangalore- Mumbai bus caught fire. The vehicle hit a median and caught fire due to a leak in the diesel tank. It was burnt within a few minutes.

http://www.rediff.com/news/report/7-...e/20131114.htm

The pertinent points that come to our minds are:-

(1) Volvo is a brand that is almost topping the safety list in the automobile world, especially for its cars since decades. In fact its name has been synonymous with safety.

(2) Is Volvo compromising on the safety standards with its commercial offerings in India - especially the buses that are prone to catch fire on the slightest damage/ hit to the fuel tank?

(3) Do we have adequate legal safeguards to prevent such unsafe automobiles from plying on our roads, endangering the lives of the passengers?

(4) What is the ARAI doing to pre-empt such tragedies ? Have they done any introspection after the earlier gory incidents? Or have they also been blindfolded to believe that everything that comes from the West is superior?

We have already been discussing about emergency exits and the buses catching fire here:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/commer...-disaster.html

The Indian brand buses (plying since five to six decades) though with some sporadic fire records, have not been in the limelight at least for fire related incidents. Whereas Volvo now steals the limelight. Is it the either emergency exit or the A.C. or the rear engine or the diesel tank leaks that are to be single handedly or collectively to take blame ?

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 14th November 2013 at 23:45.
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Old 15th November 2013, 00:44   #2
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Default re: Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

Hello.

In my Humble Opinion. The first major fire involving a volvo happened way back in late 90's on bombay puna expressway, when about 45 pasengers were roasted alive, as their front doors got jammed due to the impact. Try searching that in google. you will not find it. chances are thy have been conveniently deleted or buried or moved away by PAID CLEANERS. I had searched that for last one years, putting n number of hours but of no avail. I remember those, as i had written to volvo, about the non existance of rear exit doors. They did reply, quoting that they are following existing rules. That time there were no rules, as all are aware.

What i am trying to point out is, their standard shameless answers are, they strictly follow the standard guidelines existing in the country. Remember the infamous pepsi / coke pesticide story. They follow the strictest 7 point quality control as followed in western countries. What they dont tell is, only the grade differs. in west 1mg of pesticide is allowed. Here they will allow 10mg. but they follow quality control. All 7 of them. Hope you get it.

They are like after profits, just like any of us. Our Government have other priorities. We cant blame them actually. Its not they dont have the designs, or Will power or money or the technology.
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Old 15th November 2013, 11:35   #3
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Default re: Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

More about the VOLVO COMBUSTIBLE COFFINS:

A link to the inquiry proposal by the authorities ( National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP) into the accident on 30/10/2013
- regarding the Volvo bus fire (Mahbubnagar dist)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/i...w/24960910.cms

This above link also refers to the 2005 bus fire on NH 8 (Mumbai- Ahmadabad Highway)
A link to the fact that celebrities expressed shock over the incident:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/e...w/24922882.cms

Nothing has been heard ever since from the NATRiP about the action taken or an strictures issued by it.

Now again the NATRiP is asking for an inquiry into yesterday's fire incident on the Bangalore- Mumbai Highway:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/i...w/25782317.cms

It is good that a pressure group is also in the picture now demanding a proper inquiry:

(Quote)"Indian Federation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT), a pressure group, demanded implementation of the bus body code in order to bring quality and performance regulation on bus makers to ensure that the material used was fire retardant and the bus maker was held accountable for product failure."

"It said the fleet of Volvo luxury buses should be subject to road worthy certification to be conducted by special task force in each state. These inter-state all-India permit tourist buses operating with a single driver as against the mandate of two drivers under the Motor Vehicle Act should be seized and not allowed to proceed for further journey, it added."

" Immediate steps should be taken rather than ordering another enquiry and allowing the business of operating these killer buses as usual," said S P Singh of the organization."(Unquote)

The NATRiP is also speaking about speeding and overworked drivers behind such crashes now.

NATRiP needs to be questioned about the facts that:

(1) In the Tata and Ashok Leyland days, did we have bus fires of this kind?

(2) When the Tata and Ashok Leyland buses crashed (they crashed and even today crash in greater numbers, given the thousands that ply each day) , the ductility of the metal/ wood killed and maimed passengers. There were almost no incidents of diesel tanks catching fire and killing sleepy passengers who were suffocated after they hunted for emergency exits. Not finding a way to escape, they were charred to death. The Volvos have ushered this new phenomenon - who is responsible for allowing these unsafe coffins to ply on our highways?

(3) The cheaper variants of Tata and Ashok Leyland buses are more unsafe, less premium, rattling and the body rests on a truck chassis. Whereas, the Volvos are exclusively bus bodies available at a premium, with the comfort and safety features added for a price. Do we pay such premiums to get ourselves killed ?

(4) The New Gen high end Tata and Ashok Leyland buses also come with AC's and sealed glasses but TOUCHWOOD - almost no such gory incidents have been reported about fires from the diesel tank and colossal loss of lives. Why is Volvo being allowed to ply their buses as a combustible coffins on our roads?

(5) "Speeding and Overworked drivers" - the NATRiP contention behind such incidents. Are only the Volvo bus drivers overworked and fatigued ? It is evident from such a contention that the Tata and Ashok Leyland and other make bus drivers are not overworked and fatigued.
Is it a ploy to apportion the blame on the bus operators and drivers and absolve Volvo?

(6) When will the NATRiP wake up from their slumber , set a deadline and call for a total recall of all the VOVLO wares from the roads/operators, to conduct necessary checks at their factory/ dealerships and refit the defective parts that have been causing such gory incidents?

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 15th November 2013 at 11:44.
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Old 15th November 2013, 12:05   #4
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Default re: Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

The accidents in recent past which led to loss of lives of many people and their families has been shocking. May GOD give their families strength to overcome the trauma.

I have read in some other thread that the passengers of these private carriers may not get any insurance compensation as it is not legal to operate these interstate service in the manner they do today. I am wondering if it is true as we have not heard any word so far from the insurance agencies on this.

Anyone has any information on this?
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Old 15th November 2013, 12:31   #5
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Default re: Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

In my opinion, I read an article where these vehicles are used as a means for transporting cargo as well. I have heard stories where two wheelers were tucked inside the buses that were supposed to transport passengers. Though the manufacturer claims that the fuel tanks are non-combustible, I think the road conditions, driving styles and the cargo weight all contribute to such incidents.

I am not aware of other technical issues though.
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Old 15th November 2013, 22:04   #6
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Default Re: Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

Reading articles of the most recent burning incident, it seems that Volvo's fuel tank is near the front of the bus which is prone to hits and since the door is in the front, it would leave lesser chances of escape.

However that said, have travelled in Volvos mostly for at least the last decade and have loved every ride compared to the super deluxe type Tata and AL buses. The real issue seems to be how these highly powerful beasts are run on our roads, with the power on tap, most of the drivers try to cruize at high speeds to make it on time.

The condition of our highways be it the Golden Quadrilaterals are abound with jay walkers, cattle and what not and if a vehicle moving at high speeds loses control it is disaster for sure.

So it seems that Volvo should look into some bit of re-engineering in terms of some parts like fuel tank etc but it is the human control that needs to be moderated here.
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Old 16th November 2013, 03:35   #7
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If you see the mangled remains of both the multi-axle busses, metal is used only on the roof and upper stretched side panel. Majority of what covers the bus is fiber-glass. The front, back and lower sides are fiber-glass, and when fiber-glass burns, it creates a lot of thick black smoke, this alongwith sealed windows make the bus a death-trap

Point to be noted is that the busses are not catching fire on their own, once firer starts, it's curtains for everyone inside

The bus also is not co-Driver friendly, there is no provision for a berth for the co-Driver to rest, he has to manage on a foldable seat!
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Old 16th November 2013, 05:03   #8
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Default Re: Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

Once on a trip from Bangalore to Trivandrum, saw one Volvo that was going in front of the Volvo in which I was traveling. To put it as short as possible, it is impossible to believe the way that volvo was going. It was pitching, rolling, cutting in and what not.
It was like a very violent speed boat cutting rashly across water.

And the Volvo in which I was traveling, was closely following that one, which means, it was also doing the same insane driving pattern. As a passenger, none of these violent moves are felt inside the bus.

So, the driver who drives it with such 'ease' might not be even aware of how he is indeed handling such a beast of a machine.

Again, there will be those illogical medians and dividers and bumps which are often poorly lit, that gives surprises to the driver.

IMO its a combination of multiple factors like relaxation in safety nets by the manufacturer, driving conditions, road conditions and driver experience that lead to the tragedy.
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Old 16th November 2013, 09:58   #9
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Default Re: Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sarathlal View Post

IMO its a combination of multiple factors like relaxation in safety nets by the manufacturer, driving conditions, road conditions and driver experience that lead to the tragedy.
Volvo had all along claimed they have brought a true Bus to india while their lesser cousins (read the Indian manufacturer's) were building buses on truck chassis. While this is not completely untrue, the fact remains that they have brought a fully european product and plugged it into the market without an iota of customization to suit Indian conditions.

Having said that I feel it is the way the bus is driven to be the primary reason for the accident. The drivers should be trained to use the power responsibly. A 340hp beast is just too big for indian roads as none of the roads are access controlled. It would be worth keeping in mind that even on superhighways in Europe, the speed limit for big buses is 100kmph. In India a Volvo driven at over 120kmph is a common sight.

A bus driver who gets his passenger's killed due to dangerous driving should have his license cancelled for life. As on Volvo's part they should seriously reconsider whether the buses need such high power on Indian roads considering the ground realities - keeping aside the urge to demonstrate their technological prowess.
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Old 16th November 2013, 10:22   #10
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Originally Posted by Autokrat View Post
Volvo had all along claimed they have brought a true Bus to india while their lesser cousins (read the Indian manufacturer's) were building buses on truck chassis. While this is not completely untrue, the fact remains that they have brought a fully european product and plugged it into the market without an iota of customization to suit Indian conditions.

Having said that I feel it is the way the bus is driven to be the primary reason for the accident. The drivers should be trained to use the power responsibly. A 340hp beast is just too big for indian roads as none of the roads are access controlled. It would be worth keeping in mind that even on superhighways in Europe, the speed limit for big buses is 100kmph. In India a Volvo driven at over 120kmph is a common sight.

A bus driver who gets his passenger's killed due to dangerous driving should have his license cancelled for life. As on Volvo's part they should seriously reconsider whether the buses need such high power on Indian roads considering the ground realities - keeping aside the urge to demonstrate their technological prowess.
I dont think the Volvo or other buses from the foreign players are unsuitable for Indian conditions at all.

But on the other hand there is an issue of overspeeding in buses.

But on the issue of speed, our existing speed limits are a bit too low. Most of our highways are limited to 80kmph legally. But not many actually stick to that limit. I have seen 49ton Volvo and Prima trucks doing more than 80 at times. Having a unreasonable speed limit just means nobody will even thinking of staying within it.

In my view the entire speed limit and road safety infrastructure needs to be looked into. On the speed limits, on the major 4/6-lane highways, cars should be allowed to do 110kmph, while buses can be allowed 90kmph.

Buses can then be fit with speed limiters at 90/95kmph.

Also, the extra power in the bus is not so much used for maintaining high speeds. A Tata with 180hp will easily maintain 90+ all day if you ask it to. The need of the power is how fast you can accelerate upto that speed. And in crowded highways, where you have to slow down quite a lot, a big engine with lots of power and torque means you can regain your cruise speed quickly after having to slow down.

As for the catching fire thing, I dont think its a design issue with the bus. Until now we havnt got any explanation regarding the cause, or even likely cause of the fire. Fuel tanks dont explode like in the movies. Especially when they are plastic tanks like in the Volvo.

Also, while you may say the height of the emergency exit is a bit high, there are enough exits and they are easy enough to use on all Volvo buses. But one might say, people dont always know how to use them.
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Old 16th November 2013, 10:41   #11
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Default Re: Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

I will be surprised. All the guys seem to have hit dividers. However, the way the crazy bus drivers down south speed anything can happen. They speed even more driving a Volvo (the genuine one and not the way here, any deluxe bus is labelled Volvo).
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Old 16th November 2013, 10:51   #12
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Default Re: Are Volvo Buses unsafe? Prone to fire?

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Originally Posted by anjan_c2007 View Post

(4) The New Gen high end Tata and Ashok Leyland buses also come with AC's and sealed glasses but TOUCHWOOD - almost no such gory incidents have been reported about fires from the diesel tank and colossal loss of lives. Why is Volvo being allowed to ply their buses as a combustible coffins on our roads?
Simple, the number of Volvo's and the number of AL/TATA buses with sealed windows are not the same.

There are incidents of these buses in fire too. Forgot the KPN incident? A sleeper AC bus in which ALL passengers were burnt alive? It also hit a culvert in a similar fashion.
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Old 16th November 2013, 10:52   #13
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Buses can then be fit with speed limiters at 90/95kmph.

Also, the extra power in the bus is not so much used for maintaining high speeds. A Tata with 180hp will easily maintain 90+ all day if you ask it to. The need of the power is how fast you can accelerate upto that speed. And in crowded highways, where you have to slow down quite a lot, a big engine with lots of power and torque means you can regain your cruise speed quickly after having to slow down.
True. But the extra power and the ability to accelerate quickly is what makes them to be driven rash also.

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Old 16th November 2013, 11:08   #14
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IMHO the accident took place due to driver over speeding, over worked sheer negligence we don't know. Bus catching fire now that's just baffling considering two similar incidents which have claimed lives. The government and Volvo or who ever , should keep the 'blame game' on sidelines, look at root cause and solve it. The punitive actions can be taken later, it is time a solution is found before more lives are lost. Both cases at least one infant each has lost its life. As long as the safety measures are in place and adhered to these incidents should come down drastically. There is absolutely no meaning in prioritizing whom to be blamed. It should be instead putting in place some immediate measures which address the issue. If it means educating the operators and their drivers so be it. The news has said the RTO officials have caught many operators including ksrtc flouting safety rules. Have them immediately address the safety measures. It is also important to understand operators are doing a business and hence helping them keep these safety standards also is important. I also read the ridiculous tax these guys have to pay. This makes the operators cut corners, forego maintenance, carry parcels charge extra during holiday seasons and what not. Government should address those issues too. It should be a collective effort.
Well I am not sure how all these things would work in tandem but that's the real need. we have lost 47 lives in less than 15 days and many with serious burn injuries. It is more than a worthwhile exercise I would say.
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Old 16th November 2013, 11:10   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autokrat View Post
True. But the extra power and the ability to accelerate quickly is what makes them to be driven rash also.
Yeah but the driving rash is not the fault of the bus, but the driver, their lack of proper training, pressure from operator to meet extra tight schedules etc.

If we see it as the fault of the bus, you might as well eliminate all vehicles all together.
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