Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention and the same goes for innovation. And so, some imaginative engineers from Signalling and Telecom wing of the South Central Railway (SCR) have come up with a ‘Hooter’ to warn locomotive pilots (engine drivers) if they beat a ‘red signal’.
As most innovations that attract the spotlight go, this one too appears rather simple and tests conducted between Cherlapally and Moulali stations between June 10 and 15 turned out to be pretty successful. Going by the description, the device consists of two track circuits installed on the tracks two km before what’s called the ‘home signal’ before an approaching station.
As soon as the locomotive approaches the two-km mark before a station and there is a red signal ahead, a shrill warning erupts from the ‘Hooter’ located 800 metres away from the station, in the form of a noise that lasts a full one minute. There is a default setting though. The ‘Hooter’ makes a noise only if the train is travelling over a speed of 40 km per hour. If it is well within the speed limit, it means the pilot is anyway alert and there is no noise.
“This is just an imaginative, intelligent thought by our engineers that was taken forward. We will soon be sending across the details of the prototype to the Railway Board for further tests and approval. Once it is fine-tuned and standardised, it might well be used across the country,” says D.P. Pande, General Manager-SCR. He described it as an innovation that did not require any great technology but only the fundamentals. “The device just provides a warning to the loco pilot. It does not have the ability to shut off the locomotive on its own but only serves as an added safety mechanism in a worst-case scenario. After all, there can be no compromise on safety.