Communication-based train control (CBTC) system likely

The railways are toying with an ambitious plan of changing the face of the Mumbai suburban railway traffic network, courtesy a communication-based train control (CBTC) system.

The CBTC gives the exact position, speed, breaking distance and other information of a train service more accurately than the traditional signalling system.

If things go as planned, say experts, trains on a route will run in less than two minutes, and thereby cut down on the number of commuters jostling for space.

The idea was mooted at a convention at Delhi on ‘Modern Train Control for Capacity and Safety Enhancement. Kul Bhushan, a member of the railway board (electrical), said, “The railways are considering provisions of the CBTC system for running trains at close headways of about two minutes to meet the increased commuter traffic requirements.”

The Mumbai suburban railway system has reportedly the highest passenger density in the world, as it carries more than 7.5 million passengers each day.

The traditional system of signalling is based on track sections, each identified by ‘fixed blocks’. A signal on a block does not allow a train to pass till the block is occupied by it. A second train is allowed on the block only after the first one has gone on to the next block.

With the CBTC, though, a train will keep the control room in the loop on its speed, position, breaking distance and other details at all times. The control room will then ask other trains to adjust their movement according to the one ahead and thereby, keep a safe distance.