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.”

Railways to improve safety levels with communications-based control system

Indian Railways plans to roll out a communications-based train management system that provides higher precision in locating trains when compared to the conventional signalling systems, S. Manohar, Chief Signal and Telecommunication Engineer, Southern Railway, said on Friday.

Addressing a function to mark the World Telecommunication Day organised by Southern Railway, Mr. Manohar said the CBTC or Communications-Based Train Control systems would facilitate a more efficient and safe way to manage railway traffic.

Metro rail networks and other railway systems in a few cities were already adopting this technology which improved the safety levels.

According to Mr. Manohar, RailTel Chennai, would be implementing the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) in Tamil Nadu, which along with Gujarat, are the only two States selected for the NOFN project. The nationwide plan to connect all 2,50,000 gram panchayats in the country is being implemented by utilising the existing fibres of PSUs (BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid) and laying incremental fibre, he said.

Some of the technology-driven projects implemented in Southern Railway were the Train Protection Warning System, Integrated Security System and train Management System in two suburban sections in Chennai, he said.

Rakesh Misra, Southern Railway General Manager, inaugurated an exhibition and released a compendium which contains important letters pertaining to telecommunication to serve as a ready reckoner. G. Narayanan, Additional General Manager, spoke.

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.