Two firms get nod to install train collision prevention system

Railways has finally selected two firms for installing the much awaited Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), the safety mechanism to prevent accidents, in the 200-km-long Vikarabad-Bidar section as a pilot project.

Medha Servo and Kernex Microsystems were selected among six contenders, including a few multinational companies, by the Research, Designs and Standard Organisation (RDSO) of the Indian Railways on behalf of the Railway Board, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

The pilot project, which aims at preventing accidents, is estimated to cost about Rs 18 crore while the trials on Vikarabad-Bidar section in South Central zone are expected to be completed in about eight months time by February 2014.

A safety device designed to prevent train accidents, TCAS is based on a combination of railway signalling data with radio communications, global position, radio frequency identification devices, software and logic.

The indigenously developed TCAS is a combination of Train Protection Warning System (TPWS), an European technology which protects trains against signal passing at danger, and Konkan Railway-developed anti-collision device which avoids collision in mid-section.

“TCAS is developed in RDSO and it is very cost effective for us. While TPWS cost about Rs 70 lakh per km, TCAS is just about Rs 10 lakh,” said the official.

Fitted with a Global Positioning System (GPS) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), the device would automatically activate the brakes if it detects any problems on the track.

After a successful trial in the South Central zone, TCAS will be deployed all over the country, said the official.

TCAS is equipped to control railway stations, signalling systems and trains including suburban, long-distance and goods trains.

The official further said that whenever TCAS has to bring the train to a halt, it will first reduce its speed and identify the nearest signal within the range of 200 metres with the help of RFID.

“It will then ensure that the train stops close to this signal.”

Anti-collision trial of trains successful

The Indian Railways successfully tested a path-breaking technology called Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), about 150 km from Hyderabad, on Tuesday.

The TCAS technology, based on a combination of GPS and Radio Frequency enabled technology, applies brakes without the intervention of the loco (train) pilots once it detects another locomotive on the move or stationary on the same track and avoids collision. The technology includes installation of some electronic gadgets on the trains, in the stations and along the tracks.

A host of railway officials led by Chairman of the Railway Board Vinay Mittal, Member (Electrical) Kul Bhushan and Director General of the Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow, V. Ramachandran watched the successful trial of the TCAS. The technology is jointly developed by RDSO of the Railways and Hyderabad-based private firm HBL Power Systems Ltd.

The test was conducted by running two trains, fitted with modified and most advanced TCAS technology equipment, in the opposite directions on the same track at 60 kmph and with a train coming from behind into a stationary one between Mantatti and Navandgi stations.

Both the trains screeched to a halt at a distance of about 200 metres as the officials watched the moment with bated breath. Smiles broke out as the efficacy of the new technology proved in the trial. Interestingly, all the senior railway officials were sitting in the moving train which approached the stationary one from behind.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Mittal said: “It is a path-breaking technology and we will complete all the trials within a year. The TCAS has more capabilities than the technologies being used in many advanced countries.” The test was absolutely successful, he said in joy. Mr. Ramachandran said the technology with some limited options would be introduced in some sections within six months.

Sources stated that the TCAS would not only help avoid collisions due to human errors in signalling and invisibility of signals due to heavy rain or fog, but alerts about fire on trains and warns about damage to the tracks during natural calamities or sabotage.