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18 October 2009

Critical Thinking Scenario - Train Havoc

Ram is a software engineer working in Kolkata (a city in India) and heads to his hometown Chennai for Diwali. As he gets his backpack organized, he hears a news channel giving a cyclone warning in Andhra Pradesh (a state in India, through which Ram needs to travel). He packed up things in a hurry and heads towards a railway station. He identifies his coach which is three coaches behind the engine and he made new friend instantly.

His fellow traveler was a retired military man and during their journey they shared their worldly experiences. It was about 20 hours after the journey started in Kolkata, the rain and storm slowly started to build up. It was about two kilometers before a big bridge and it really takes two minutes to cross for a train traveling at 100 kmph. The river was supposedly overflowing as the flood was heavy. When the train approached few hundred meters before the bridge, there was a power failure in the train and the driver was clever enough to pull the break. The train stopped before the bridge but four coaches including the engine were in the bridge. As expected, there was a heavy flood in the river and it was very unlikely that the train can move even if the power is restored.

What will you do in this situation? Fire up you neurons to firefight this scenario.

BTW, this is an exercise to tip off your critical thinking and if it works well, I will share more such scenarios. One thing that you need to remember that there are no right or wrong answers. You just need to respond to this situation.

11 comments:

testingideas said...

I would ask the help, suggestions and guidance from the retired military man. Because he might have exposure or at least trained to handle such emergency situations

3rdeye said...

Am i back to personality development classes and Mock GD's?

Lakshmi Narayanan N said...

@testingideas
The military man is also in the train (3rd coach) with you. What would be your priorities and how will you handle the situation to minimize losses.

@Vaishnav(3rdeye)

Not really. It is just a scenario that we may encounter anytime when we travel :-).

Many times we try to do adventure rather than handle a scenario with brain.

testingideas said...

//The military man is also in the train (3rd coach) with you.//

Thats is the reason why I said I would get help from military man. Heuristic I used here is to get help from the correct person.

//What would be your priorities and how will you handle the situation to minimize losses.//

First detach the first four coaches from each other and also from other compartments,
at the same time evacuate all the people from first four coaches away from the bridge.
--Dhanasekar S

Lakshmi Narayanan N said...

@testingideas

I have two questions here

1. Why do you want to detach first four compartment from the rest of the train?

2. Why do you want to disconnect the first four compartments from each other?

BadhriNath said...

Call in the station that has been crossed and that is about to be crossed and convey following : in order of priority :

1) No more trains to approach the bridge in either directions.
2) Ask the people driver included to detrain from first four compartments and entrain and take refuge in other compartments.
3) Call in for an engine from the station that has been passed to haul this back to safety.
4) Detatch the first four compartments so that if bridge collapses it doesnt drag the rest. When new engine comes attach it back and move back.

that is phase 1.

phase 2:
the railbhavan plans for alternate routes to cross over the river and move them onto other side by road or by other routes and reroute the links..

testingideas said...

//1. Why do you want to detach first four compartment from the rest of the train?//

//2. Why do you want to disconnect the first four compartments from each other? //

I want the first four comparments to be detached from the rest of the train so that other compartments will remain safe in case of flood derailing these four coaches.
Disconnecting the first four comparments from each other is also for the similar reason. If all the four are disconnected from each other,when one compartment is washed away by flood may not drag other compartments.

But priority should be First to detach the four compartments from the remaining part of the train than detaching the four compartments from each other.Bacause detaching all the four might take more time.

Lakshmi Narayanan N said...

@BadhriNath
How will you handle all these in power failure?

@testingideas
"Unity is Strength". If one compartment wash away, there is a possibility of four individual compartments to wash away is more.

But if you have them remain as single big entity, they may not wash away.

Also, you need to again attach them if you have the engine pull them back.

BadhriNath said...

Cellphones do not need power :) the call can be made from cellphones. and wearing a raincoat just walking the coaches and ordering the people by showing badges can move ppl out. If engine cannot reach for next 48 hrs then air drop the food packets.

testingideas said...

//Unity is Strength". If one compartment wash away, there is a possibility of four individual compartments to wash away is more.//

Agree.May not be a correct option to four comparments from each other.

Also try to establish a communication to the nearest railway authority(a station,manned level crossing),through any available options like Railways own communication system,a cell phone or a internet connection from laptop.
--Dhanasekar S

Thennam Pandian said...

First of all will disconnect the other compartments from four compartments. Will get the people from four compartments to other compartments. After that will get all the luggages from the four compartments.