WR locals to get advanced system to keep them off collision course

Train protection warning system (TPWS), proposed for Western Rly among others by Rly Board, will minimise risk of signal breach and derailments, deter speeding trains, and reduce collisions

While the French call it ‘the Crocodile’, the Germans have named their train protection system ‘Indusi’. Now, the Railway Board is working out a similar advanced warning system for the Western Railway (WR), starting with suburban locals in Mumbai, where about 1,214 train services are operated every day.

Need for upgrade: Currently, the trains are fitted with an auxiliary
warning system, under which a motorman is alerted by a beep if the
train is headed to breach a signal. File pic

Soon after the presentation of the Railway Budget, the Board proposed a plan under the train protection warning system (TPWS) covering high-density routes on the four Railway zones — Western, Eastern, South Eastern and North Central. Starting with WR, the proposed TPWS will be installed on the Mumbai Central-Virar stretch, and be extended up to Ahmedabad via Vadodara, covering a stretch of 500 km.

The primary function of the TPWS is to minimise risk of trains breaching signals and derailments, act as a deterrent for speeding trains, and reduce collisions with buffers. Sources in WR say that the mechanical functioning of TPWS is such that it would immediately apply brakes in case the train is moving too fast despite the red signal, or would help the train to slow down after sensing something wrong on the tracks ahead. Also, if a motorman misjudges the distance as to when the brakes should be applied, TPWS will come to his aid.

“The software installed in TPWS would connect the tracks, signalling system and the train. This system would send signals to one another and in case the train is running at a high speed, irrespective of a red signal, it would automatically apply brakes without human intervention,” said a senior WR official.

Exactly a year ago, WR had called tenders for initial study and implementation of TPWS. However, it could be a long time before the plan actually sees the light of day. The plan is scheduled to start this year, and will cover nearly 3,300 km of train route across the four zones till 2015. Other areas will be covered by 2020.

At present, the trains are fitted with the auxiliary warning system (AWS), which works on magnetic field pertaining to tracks and signal systems. Under AWS, a motorman is alerted by a beep when the system senses the train might breach a signal. The system is placed between two tracks. While the suburban trains on the Western and Central Railway have been using AWS for over 20 years now, officials have been complaining that motormen tend to switch it off, risking train operations.

AWS fact file
In August 2009, a local train rammed into a stationary train at Mahim station. Several railway officials had then opined that the existing auxiliary warning system, a technology first introduced by WR in 1986-87, was outdated and needed upgrade. There are 508 AWSs on the Churchgate-Virar stretch, including slow and fast lines.


Railways opt for European tech to prevent train collisions

Indian Railways have decided to adopt a European technology in certain busy routes to prevent rail accidents.

“We are installing the Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) in 828-km rail route as a preventive measure against collisions,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

TPWS, a state-of-the-art European technology, is estimated to cost Rs 70 lakh per km.

“If the train jumps the red signal then brakes will be applied automatically under the system,” the official said, adding a “majority of the recent accidents were due to trains jumping red signals in foggy conditions.”

The total cost for installing the TPWS would be about Rs 579.6 crore and the work will be awarded through tendering system.

“We are finalising the tendering process,” he said.

TPWS would be implemented in North Central, South East,Eastern and Western zones.

Earlier, the TPWS was implemented in a suburban section in Chennai and the Delhi-Mathura non-suburban section on a pilot basis.

The trial was satisfactory and now the system would be extended to other zones, the official said.

Railways are also developing “crash worthy” coaches and locomotives and will provide automatic fire and smoke detection system in 20 pairs of long-distance trains on an experimental basis.

“As far as accidents at unmanned level crossings are concerned, we are launching a special drive to man all
crossings in a phased manner,” the official said.

There are about 17,000 unmanned level crossings across the country. While the work for 3,000 unmanned level crossings started in 2009-10, that for another 1,000 crossings are being taken up in the current fiscal.

Besides TPWS, railways are installing anti-collision device in certain sections to prevent accidents.


European system for Indian rails


LUDHIANA: Based on the track system in European countries, the railway authorities in India are ready to install train protection warning system (TPWS) here to avoid collisions between trains and reduce accident rates.The authorities have handed over the responsibility to European Railway Train Management Company to conduct trials at Palwal section in Delhi division.

Following the successful trial at Chennai Central section in 2008, the authorities have decided to implement it in northern and north central railways.

Sources revealed that TPWS is actually further modification of auxiliary warning system (AWS). Primarily aimed to minimise the risk of trains jumping signals at danger points, it is presently used to reduce collisions with buffer stops and over-speed derailment risks. The device automatically applies brake on a train if it approaches danger.

This wireless system would also help the driver to maintain the speed as authorities are mulling over the idea of trains running on increased speed, sources added.

Giving information, senior divisional safety officer RV Singh said they were working on the installation of the system in Ferozepur division. Electrification of the railway tracks, which is one of the prerequisites, is on.

“The system sends a beep signal to the driver if there is some obstruction on the track and allows him sufficient time to stop the train. It also applies automatic brakes if need be,” he added.

In the past few months, several accidents have occurred on tracks, claiming many lives of commuters.