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Old 19th November 2013, 15:49   #136
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

Also, the shady practices are going unchecked by the authorities, as for the numerous times i have travelled by these volvos, not once have we been stopped for cargo or luggage inspection at any point. I get to see trucks being stopped by the RTO checkposts everywhere, dont know if they actually check anything but sure they atleast make an attempt and of course earn some side income.
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Old 19th November 2013, 17:22   #137
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

My initial guess is that the "tank exploding" funda being spoken on the TV does not quite add up. I saw a show on Discovery Channel once where a scientist showed why Diesel was the preferred fuel for long-haul vehicles and that is because even when he threw a match into a beaker of diesel it did not catch fire like Petrol does. He instead needed to use a blowtorch to heat up the fuel and then it caught fire. I guess that is why the diesel engines are compression engines as compared to spark-based petrol engines

On a different note, firstly I felt very sorry to hear of all these folks who died on these 2 buses and my heartfelt condolences to their families. Also, it was extremely sad to see that small children, some even infants died in these incidents

The final note is that I have seen several bus operators loading in a bike or some crates of God knows what into the luggage compartments. What if the bikes petrol tank burst first (I know the tank needs to be empty as per "rules") and this caused the diesel to combust? Second, what is in these crates carried up and down? Have they been checked to make sure nothing flammable inside them?

As far as I know IMHO, fuel tanks on all top-end vehicles are built of very heavy-duty material which can withstand being thrown down fully laden from 50 feet or so and that is why I do not buy into the fuel-tank explosion concept being peddled by our media
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Old 19th November 2013, 18:37   #138
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Hi again, I wanted to clarify a bit on Anand's remarks. Again all IMHO and without any specific knowledge on the subject matter but yes just out of some exposure and logic. Firstly, for a tank to explode a fuel vapour and air mixture under pressure is prerequisite. It is possible in every combustible under conditions unique to the material hence diesel fuel air mixture is possible albeit under more intense conditions than say petrol. Secondly a strong casing, 'tank' in this case, would be able to hold more pressure than a weak one though the explosion would be difficult to achieve but once achieved it would be more violent because more captive energy would be released at once. Comparatively a weak tank would explode easily but the energy of explosion would obviously be low. Analogy.. A fire cracker that goes 'fusss' it's not because there's no explosive it is mainly because the casing is weak or damaged. I'm not sure what kind of fuel tank pressurisation scheme these buses incorporate but any malfunction in it can surely give rise to fuel air mixture formation in the tank. Oh just bit off context, for OBD equipped vehicles! If you have your CEL (Check Engine Light) on and some code of low fuel rail pressure pops up.. Check your fuel tank lid (the plastic cap) for cracks or excessive wear and tear. Else you would end up changing the fuel pump on poor advice.
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Old 19th November 2013, 19:49   #139
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

Some tips that would keep us safe at all times during night travel. It is also good to note that there are only few things in our control, and luck matters.

1. Carry a Swiss Knife which can be a life saver. You can try to break the Emergency Exit glass or protect yourself in case of a hijack of the bus.
2. A torch would always be handy. Yes, we all do have swanky phones with flash lights. But having an exclusive tool at times of adversity might mean the difference between life and death.
3. Stay alert. I have seen people completely lost when travelling by bus. Their footwear would have slipped two seats away and their essential carry bag would be stacked another two rows behind. Be prepared and relax.
4. Never hesitate to advice the driver if over speeding. After all, our lives are at stake.
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Old 21st November 2013, 08:50   #140
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

According to the news reports, The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has decided to probe the Volvo Accident.

Here's statement from the news report that caught my attention. Not sure what they intend to convey!

Quote:
He said wrong alignments could prove disastrous in the present day context when multi-axle buses sought to turn at the fair speed of 60 km per hour.
Source
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Old 21st November 2013, 09:37   #141
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warwithwheels View Post
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has decided to probe the Volvo Accident.
Glad to see the topic getting some attention however, standing committee on transport is by itself a toothless body. Previous suggestion of theirs to suspend toll collection on NH's where widening work is ongoing was brushed under the table.

Also saw another report about raising fuel flash-point. As per the report flash-point of diesel in India is set at 35 degrees C. I am not sure what that means, input from experts would be helpful.

Link
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Old 21st November 2013, 11:09   #142
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpksuhas View Post
Glad to see the topic getting some attention however, standing committee on transport is by itself a toothless body. Previous suggestion of theirs to suspend toll collection on NH's where widening work is ongoing was brushed under the table.

Also saw another report about raising fuel flash-point. As per the report flash-point of diesel in India is set at 35 degrees C. I am not sure what that means, input from experts would be helpful.

Link
Flash point means the temperature at which the vapors of the liquid can be ignited using a spark.

The refinery spec diesel which is sold in India has to comply to BIS standards. Flash point listed there is 35-37 deg C or so (sorry, my knowledge on this figure dates back to 2005). Which means there is a considerable content of kerosene in it. (Kerosene is lighter and thus more readily inflammable - and hence carries a lower flash point).

Ideally flash point should be kept above the regular summer day temperature - which means should be about 50 deg C.

So making a comparison, in summers with temp hovering about 40 deg C, your current spec diesel can burst into flames if presented with a spark.
In MY recommended diesel spec, the diesel will not burst into flames.

So where is the catch?
The catch is that refiners in India do not like producing Kerosene more than what govt has stipulated.
But the crude oil processing WILL produce Kerosene based on its assay (composition), so you can't avoid producing more kero than govt's demand. Most of this excess kero is blended back into the diesel pool.

You raise the flash point, you won't be able to blend the Kero fraction into Diesel. So that means either more losses, or you need to think of profitable ways of using this kero. One is to not produce kero, but to produce ATF (which is kero fraction, but with tighter boiling range). But then that would increase the production of heavy naphtha, which again is mostly useless (profitability wise) OR the downstream units like hydrotreater, catalytic reformer etc are not designed for this heavy naptha.

Last edited by alpha1 : 21st November 2013 at 11:15.
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Old 21st November 2013, 19:54   #143
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

With two accidents back to back, I think it is high time we observe a few safety measures while doing Volvo commutes esp. during the night. Thanks to IRCTC, Volvo buses are usually the next preferred mode of travel. I posted this on my Fb wall.

Quote:
2 Volvo buses were charred to ashes that claimed over 50 lives over a month! People doing long distance night travels in Volvo/Merc buses - please be extremely alert at all times. Following a few precautions can make a difference between life and death.

1. Do not doze off under the bone chilling AC of the Volvos. Be alert at all times. Carry a tablet/e-book reader along to pass time. If you are traveling with a companion, take turns to sleep.

2. Private operators may not have speed governors installed or they have probably removed it. The other day while traveling to Lonavla, the speedo of our bus was hovering around the 130 kmph mark at the Mumbai-Pune expressway! Politely request the bus driver to slow down. After all, our lives are at stake.

3. An emergency hammer is located near the emergency exit window of every Volvo bus. Ensure that it is available before commencing the journey. If not, insist the driver/cleaner for one. In the event of an unfortunate accident and the front door getting jammed, this hammer can prove extremely useful to break the glass and evacuate the passengers. It may be at least a 5-6 ft drop to the ground but you will at least get out alive!

4. In the event of an accident, do not panic! Forget about the luggage on the overhead storage compartments and help others evacuate to safety.

Spread the word.
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Old 21st November 2013, 20:14   #144
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

Why don't we compare them to the two Nano's that went up in flames ? Just because they are Volvo manufactured ?

Over speeding ? Are they not designed to handle 100+ kmph ? Are there no dividers in European highways ? Do drivers there always behave well with such buses ?

As condor said, there are hundreds of TATA and Leyland buses roaring down the highways every day and night. How many of them have resulted in such fatalities ?

There is no doubt that the fuel has caused the fires. What else has burnt (seats, interior furnishing, wiring, sponge / foam , etc ) also needs to be analysed. Being A/C buses, there seem to be a lack of safety exits. I have seen hammers at every second window for this purpose in Europe. I'm sure they would not have been present there to prevent theft. With all these "burnable" things around, do we really need contra brand to ignite ?

I see it as a case of poor adaptation of technology to our pathetic road conditions, that's all.
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Old 21st November 2013, 20:34   #145
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

The only fault of Volvo, according to me, are- they provided high powered buses to the Indian market.

I am sure they knew that bringing such buses to India for the first time , will need some sort of training to our drivers, which they do.
But our Indian mentality is always inclined towards short cuts. So one fine day, a driver gets promoted from a Leyland to a Volvo with no training.
He gets his attitude then from driving a big/powerful/good looking/expensive bus which leads to speeding and I own the road feeling., till he learns his lesson. Which I am sure, he will forget after few months and back to what he was doing.

I remember when BMTC first launched the low floor Volvo's on the Ring roads, i got chatting with the driver, who was a middle aged chap and he mentioned he has been driving a TATA BMTC bus for almost 15-20 years and was one of the first to be chosen to be trained to drive the low floor.
Now, I find drivers, who are not more than 35 years old, driving the same low floors.

Regards

Last edited by tharian : 21st November 2013 at 21:03.
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Old 21st November 2013, 20:54   #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha1 View Post
Flash point means the temperature at which the vapors of the liquid can be ignited using a spark.

The refinery spec diesel which is sold in India has to comply to BIS standards. Flash point listed there is 35-37 deg C or so (sorry, my knowledge on this figure dates back to 2005). Which means there is a considerable content of kerosene in it. (Kerosene is lighter and thus more readily inflammable - and hence carries a lower flash point).

Ideally flash point should be kept above the regular summer day temperature - which means should be about 50 deg C.
Apologies, if this is a lame question. Is ignition temperature same as flash point?

I was under the impression diesel requires a greater temperature to ignite.

But I also remember a comment from a mechanic who said, diesel will ignite easily if sprayed as a fine mist.

There should be something more to it. Maybe some electrical circuits too close to the diesel tank.

I have always felt claustrophobic when travelling in a volvo, with those tall yet tough glasses.
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Old 21st November 2013, 21:49   #147
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

It is indeed heartbreaking to read the news about fire accidents involving Volvo buses. Apart from this accident at Haveri, I immediately recall the horrific accident that happened at Mahabubnagar a few weeks back.

A lot of theories were floated. The authorities woke up and made a lot of noises about the “illegality” of buses plying on the roads. A lot of suggestions were made that ought to have been followed. In the din of all these, one crucial fact is somehow ignored. The condition of the carriageway. Yes, the width of the road at the accident spot. I am not very sure about the details about Haveri, but at Mahabubnagar, the width of the road at the place of accident is definitely narrower. It is almost 7 feet narrower than the rest of the road.

I have travelled on this road several times and couldn't quite comprehend the reason behind the flaw in the design of the road. There is a culvert and there is a well-like structure, squarish in shape, in the median, with walls around the perimeter, encroaching into the main road. Isn't it an invitation for disaster?

When hundreds of crores of rupees are spent on building these roads, why not ensure that the roads have uniform width?

Having a tree in the middle of a busy road and blaming the driver for accident due to carelessness is the analogy that I can think of.

I think the engineers who designed these death-traps should be prosecuted as well. But then it is only a wishful thinking in India. No blame ever sticks to any authority. If someone dies on the road due to the damaged road, the poor soul alone is blamed. Long live India.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 00:43   #148
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

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Originally Posted by pugram View Post
Apologies, if this is a lame question. Is ignition temperature same as flash point?

I was under the impression diesel requires a greater temperature to ignite.
Flash, fire and auto-ignition points are different concepts.

In layman terms, they're defined as follows:

Flash point: Minimum temperature at which a fuel gives off enough vapors/fumes to be ignited momentarily by an ignition source, but not able to sustain a flame without the ignition source.

Fire point: Minimum temperature at which a fuel's vapor can ignite and sustain combustion even if ignition source is withdrawn post ignition.

Auto-ignition point: Temperature at which a fuel will ignite without an ignition source.


Petrol flashes at (-)43 deg. C, Diesel at (+)62 deg. C. Fire points are usually about 10 deg. C higher than resp. flash points.


What this means in the accident's context is: If the diesel tank caught fire at ambient temperature, then it was most probably adulterated diesel (like @aplha1 mentioned above), which lowered its flash point. Pure diesel wouldn't ignite so easily, and even if it did ignite, wouldn't be able to sustain combustion at ambient temperatures.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 22nd November 2013 at 00:59.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 01:10   #149
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Default re: Nov '13: Another Volvo Bus catches fire. 7 dead!

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Originally Posted by Chetan_Rao View Post
What this means in the accident's context is: If the diesel tank caught fire at ambient temperature, then it was most probably adulterated diesel (like @aplha1 mentioned above), which lowered its flash point. Pure diesel wouldn't ignite so easily, and even if it did ignite, wouldn't be able to sustain combustion at ambient temperatures.
Or is it possible that the other parts of the bus had caught fire, and the temperature of the surroundings of the tank was enough to sustain combustion of all the diesel in the tank?

Did anyone not highlight the batteries present in the bus? I m not sure but IIRC the batteries are located towards the front of the bus but not sure exactly where. Did the batteries rupture? With a battery we have both inflammable acid, its inflammable vapours as well as a spark from the terminals which may be ripped during impact.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 01:19   #150
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Or is it possible that the other parts of the bus had caught fire, and the temperature of the surroundings of the tank was enough to sustain combustion of all the diesel in the tank?

Did anyone not highlight the batteries present in the bus? I m not sure but IIRC the batteries are located towards the front of the bus but not sure exactly where. Did the batteries rupture? With a battery we have both inflammable acid, its inflammable vapours as well as a spark from the terminals which may be ripped during impact.
Exactly the point I was about to make. The diesel may have made the fire worse, but it's difficult to buy the 'diesel started it' theory, unless it was heavily adulterated diesel capable of spark-ignition.

The battery scenario is plausible, but if the impact was bad enough to rupture the battery, then I don't see how the manufacturer can be held responsible for it. Batteries are usually pretty impact-resistant, but nothing is impact-proof. Volvo bus' batteries, if I remember right, are located in a boxed section under the driver's seat area, and the bus in this accident wasn't involved in a frontal hit.

My personal opinion w.r.t. this accident is the hit ignited something else on the bus (possibly something inflammable in the cargo hold), and the consequent fire ignited the ruptured diesel tank.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 22nd November 2013 at 01:22.
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