Tech to prevent train wrecks

Jan 07 2013, 00:30 IST
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SummaryIndia has one of the largest railway systems in the world, serving 20 million passengers a day.

Indian Railways runs successful trials for a new homegrown technology near Hyderabad to avoid train collisions

India has one of the largest railway systems in the world, serving 20 million passengers a day. However, the present signaling system in Indian Railways seems to have outlived its utility. To say the least, the system is antiquated and under severe pressure due to introduction of new trains and increasing traffic. The spate of accidents is a pointer towards an urgent need for implementation of safety devices that can increase train and passenger safety. No wonder, the Indian Railways is embarking upon indigenous new generation safety devices for fewer accidents and better safety measures.

As a pilot project for the Indian Railways, the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) Lucknow, in collaboration with Hyderabad-based HBL Power Systems, has carried out field trials successfully using a new homegrown train protection system. The Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) is designed to automatically trigger a brake application when a signal is passed at danger.

Trials were conducted recently at Tandur station, in Andhra Pradesh. The TCAS, tested in real-time on a track near Tandur in the South Central Railway zone, demonstrated the effectiveness of the system. The device is based on a combination of railway signalling data with radio communications, global positioning system (GPS), radio frequency identification devices, software and logic. Two trains equipped with the system ran a series of trials.

Following the success of the tests through different terrains, quality analysis and few more extensive trials, RDSO is expected to send its report to the Railway Board for implementation across other zones. Around 500 people are believed to have lost their lives due to various kinds of train accidents in the last five years, which could have been preventable.

AVR Murthy, vice-president, HBL Power Systems, says, The system is designed to automatically bring trains to a halt when collision-like situations arise or when the red signal is violated. During the trials, the effectiveness was demonstrated for prevention of head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, over-speeding of trains and disregard for red signal. It has essential features of both automatic train protection and collision prevention in one solution.

The HBL official explains that TCAS has more features than anti collision devices (ACD) that was earlier tested by the Indian Railways and European Trail Control System, thus making it the first system in India and probably in the world to provide essential features of

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