A high-level committee headed by noted nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar and ‘Metro man’ E Sreedharan to review safety features of the Indian Railways had in 2012 lambasted the working of a train protection system implemented in Chennai.
The Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) was developed by Union Switch & Signal (US&S) India, which is a subsidiary of Ansaldo Signal, which is turn is a company owned by Italian defence manufacturer Finmeccanica.
The review team had met manufacturers and experts on January 12-13, 2012 and deliberated at length on the TPWS, which had been deployed and put on trial at the Chennai sub-urban since 2009 and was also being planned for about 160 km of the Delhi-Agra rail section.
“The system (TPWS) based on European design, is not working in Indian conditions. It was observed during the committee members’ visit, when the motormen operating on Chennai sub-urban complained of false braking, system problems, etc,” the report said.
The recommendation was fairly clear: “Indian Railways may like to consider a paradigm shift in implementation strategy for deploying modern and effective signaling systems.”
Ansaldo specialises in designing, developing and producing rail and metro signalling and traffic monitoring systems. The company is engaged in huge railways projects including Kolkata metro.
Finmeccanica is caught in a controversy after allegations of huge kickbacks in a Rs. 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal.