SIMRAN to save lives of rly gangmen

Every year about 400 gangmen are run over by trains while working on the rail tracks. To check these deaths, railways will use Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN). This train tracking technology has been developed by IIT-Kanpur and Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO).

Meanwhile, IIT-Kanpur will hand over the final report on the Gangmen Warning System (GWS) to the Railway Board on March 10. Developed at a cost of Rs 30 lakh, GWS would alert a gangman about an approaching train from a distance of 2,000 metres. The gangman will have to walk with a device which will warn him against the approaching train. “GWS is a byproduct of SIMRAN which works on GSM technology,” said BM Shukla, principal software engineer, CSE department, IIT-Kanpur. While Indian Railways discontinued working with IIT-K on train tracking system, one of the most important uses of SIMRAN technology, the institute is working on two of the other byproducts of SIMRAN — GWS and the Unmanned Level Crossing Gates Warning System (ULCGWS).

IIT-Kanpur has completed trials for GWS and only a final trial in front of RDSO is awaited, said Shukla. On ULCGWS too, the institute has made headway. It’s the final report which is awaited from ULCGWS. In this, a device would be installed at level crossings, both manned and unmanned, to alert road-users about the approaching train. The signal would change colour when the train is 2,000 metres from the crossing and a hooter would blow when the train is 700 metres away from the level crossing. Once the train has crossed, signal would change colour from red to yellow. “The alarm system would be on till the last train on the track has crossed,” said Shukla.

The accidents at unmanned level crossings are rampant in railways. There have been several instances where vehicles hit the boom barriers and disrupted movement of trains. The warning system at level crossings will keep a check on such incidents. SIMRAN tracks trains through GPS, GSM and/or RF tags. The technology has been developed jointly by RDSO and IIT-K. “We completed the project in 2009 and handed it over to the Railway Board,” said executive director, administration, RDSO, AK Mathur. SIMRAN has been developed using about Rs 350 crore between 2004 and 2009.

In one of the most passenger friendly moves, railway ministry opened the first phase of Real Train Information System (RTIS) to people for accurate train tracking, using SIMRAN, in 2011. IIT-Kanpur, which played the major role in research stage, has been kept away in the deployment stage of the project. In October last year, Railway Board discontinued the role of IIT-Kanpur in train tracking system.

“We had asked for Rs 5 crore for deployment of SIMRAN in trains all over the railways but the day we were called to sign the MoU, we were told that our involvement is no longer needed in the project,” said sources in IIT-Kanpur. The institute was working on the project in 36 trains. But, after railways’ decision, IIT-Kanpur closed down the website giving real time information to the passengers using SIMRAN. The institute, since it had the experience of operating the technology, could have helped in deployment, but now it’s the Indian Railway Project Management Unit (IRPMU) which is deploying RTIS in all the trains. “We have real time train enquiry which is similar to SIMRAN,” said Anil K Saxena, additional DG, PR, Railway Board.

SIMRAN was one of the 12 projects under the Technology Mission for Railway Safety (TMRS)
It helps in locating trains through GPS, GSM and/or RF tags without any manual interference
IIT-K is working on GWS and ULCGWS
SIMRAN has been funded 50% by HRD, 30% by Railways and 20% by industries as was provided in TMRS
IIT-K and RDSO worked on SIMRAN from 2004 to 2009
About 350 crore spent on developing SIMRAN