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

Indian Railways to launch real-time train tracking via Google maps

Indian Railways may soon launch real-time tracking of trains on Google maps that can be accessed through mobile devices and PCs.

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the technology arm of the Indian Railways, has developed a GPS-based solution with help of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which can provide exact location of a train with an accuracy of 10 metres, and latency of 2 minutes, on a real-time basis.

The GPS devices, which will cost around Rs 70,000-1,00,000 per train, would be fitted in about 100 trains, which may help avert collisions and prevent loss of lives. In affect, trains in future may know each other’s location, and start breaking, in case of danger ahead.

The breaking distance of passenger trains is about 1 km, while for freight trains it is about 1.4 kms. Around 22 people have died this year due to train accidents, and last year around 120 people died. According to reports, in the last four years, around 15% of rail accidents took place in India.

“The government’s focus is to reduce the number of accidents and installation of real-time monitoring service on all trains by the end of 2013, which would contribute in improving the monitoring,” V A Chopra MD CRIS said.

Passengers may also be available to see real-time locations, as CRIS has integrated the GPS app with Google maps. ISRO’s INSAT-3C satellite will aid in location of moving trains. The GPS system can give an accuracy of about 10 metres, with a lag of about 2 minutes.

However, CRIS aims to shorten the distance to about 3 metres, the average distance between two gauge lines, a critical factor that can prevent accidents if a train on another line is derailing.

Success of the GPS-based system may help Railways in running trains at high speed. The GPS application will also aid in better planning of train schedules, especially in bad weather.

Currently, scheduling is done manually. Station masters call the divisional headquarters and inform them once a train has left a particular station. “In future, the controller will only plan the running and scheduling of trains instead of co-ordinating with various other stations to confirm the status of the trains,” said Chopra.

Indian Railways has about 77 control offices at over 6,000 stations. A pilot project has already started between Chennai and Tambaram railway stations, where about 364 suburban train services have been scheduled successfully with the GPS devices. CRIS plans to allocate around Rs 70 crore to the project.

The facility to track train movements will soon be available on Indianrailways.

Last year, Indian Railways had announced the project Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN) jointly with IIT-Kanpur for a similar tracking portal, which is currently in pilot stage with several trains including Rajdhani and Shatabdi.

GPS-based information system in Howrah, Mumbai Rajdhanis

A GPS-based passenger information system will be installed in the Mumbai and Howrah Rajdhanis from this month, enabling passengers to find out the exact location, speed and arrival time of trains on real-time basis.

GPS receivers are being acquired to be installed and once the installation is completed, the Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN) system will be operational in four trains (two rakes each of Mumbai Rajdhani and Howrah Rajdhanis), a senior Railway Ministry official said.

Developed by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in collaboration with IIT-Kanpur, SIMRAN will replace the manual tracking system by connecting about 8,000 trains and 8,177 stations through GPS across the country in a phase-wise manner.

Rly minister gives green signal to GPS-based project

Rail passengers can look forward to on board infotainment services and enhanced safety with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee giving the green signal for a GPS-based project.

The Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (Simran), which went through some exhaustive trials could also reduce accidents at unmanned level crossings, besides avoiding collision.

The project, which uses a satellite imaging software along with the global positioning system, was developed as part of the Railway Safety Technology Mission to provide correct train information to passengers.

A train locator unit installed in a train identifies its latitudinal and longitudinal values and speed by receiving information through GPS satellites, Railway sources familiar with the project said.

LCD screen installed within coaches will inform passengers about speed, current location, next destination, outside temperature etc, thanks to the real time tracking mechanism, sources said, adding actual train position would also be displayed in station’s enquiry display board.

Display board inside coaches can also be used for entertainment as well as for selective advertisement, which can be an avenue for revenue generation by Railways, sources said.

The Sam Pitroda-led expert committee on ICT has also favoured implementation of the project, which could prove to be a boon for efficient freight handling. Pitroda is expected to hold further deliberation on its implementation in the first week of September.

The Railway Minister, on Friday, said in Parliament that the project would be implemented within the next two years.

Sources, however, said several details are yet to be worked out to make the project fool-proof amid apprehensions that it could be misused by subversive elements.

Several players including IIT Kanpur, RDSO and Kolkata-based Impex Infotech are actively involved in the project, with the Railway planning to implement it through PPP mode.

Field trial was conducted in several trains, including Rajdhani Express (Mumbai, Howrah, and Patna), Shatabdi Express (Bhopal, Amritsar, and Lucknow), Duranto Express (New Delhi-Sealdah), Gomti Express (Lucknow-New Delhi) and Puspak Express (Lucknow-Mumbai).

Video-cum-train info display likely

Hyderabad-based LED display company MIC Electronics Ltd has received Research and Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) approval from Indian railways for its ‘true colour video-cum-train information display system’, both indoor and outdoor.

This system takes imaging data from satellite imaging for rail navigation (SIMRAN) and displays station-specific train information in three languages — English, Hindi and the local language of the station.

MIC has already installed this unmanned system with SIMRAN synchronisation at the Patna railway station. The system when fully operational will take away the long queues of passengers from the manned enquiry counters and enhance passenger convenience.

The Indian railways plans to install 100 such boards at category A and B stations across the country.