Railway Board Member (Electrical) Kul Bhushan feels that technology can enable the Railways in achieving its goal of eliminating accidents. In an interview with HT he spoke on the various safety measures that the Railways is looking at. Excerpts.
Several train accidents in the recent past have reportedly been caused because of signaling failure. How does the Railways intend to address these issues?
It is not technology — but rather the lack of it — that might have been responsible for some accidents that have happened. The Railways need to absorb the latest technology to provide for a safer travel.
Plans to install mobile train radio communication systems are being vigorously pursued. These gadgets provide for advanced safety features that are not available on the wireless sets that have conventionally been used. These are already being used by loco pilots on 2800 kilometers, while the target is to cover 2200 more kilometers of tracks this year.
Plans to install anti-collision devices (ACDs) have been on the anvil for about a decade now. Has the scheme been dropped?
We have not been completely satisfied by the ACD trials so far. But we are proceeding with other systems including the train protection warning systems (TPWS) and the train collision avoidance system (T-CAS).
The TPWS technology comes at a much higher cost of `80 lakh per kilometer, while T-CAS can be installed at a cost of `10 lakh per kilometer. If the T-CAS trials are successful, it is likely that the Railways will choose this technology over others. But all the three systems will co-exist.
What is the progress on running high speed or semi-high speed trains?
These plans are under consideration at present.
One view is that there has been an overemphasis on electrification in the past few years. Comment.
Such arguments are misplaced. The Indian Railways spends `16,000 crore on diesel locos to carry 37% of the traffic, while just `9000 crore are spent on buying power to run electric trains — which carry 67% of the traffic. More electrification will lead to the optimization of fuel costs. Our dependence on fuel imports will also reduce.