The Railways have begun preparations to face its biggest enemy - fog. But of the 1,300 fog-safety devices required, Northern Railways has only half of them.
"We have 650 devices which are on an extended trial at the directive of the railway board. The results have been satisfactory," said a senior official. The focus will be on trains which operate to and from Delhi.
The device, which costs Rs. 40,000 a piece, was used last year for the first time.
It tells the distance of the next signal according to which the driver can control the train's speed.
Because of poor visibility, hundreds of trains are either diverted, cancelled or delayed during winters, affecting passengers and causing a revenue losses worth crores of rupees. Sometimes, accidents also happen.
"The idea behind installing these devices was really to check accidents rather than seamless movement of trains. It doesn't mean trains won't slow down. Drivers will only get to know about approaching signals. They can't see the signal colours," the official said.
"Retro-reflective marking has been put in place at designated spots to improve visibility. The cracker-bursting method to indicate signals will also be used," he added. Detonators are placed before a signal. They burst when trains pass over them and the blast alerts the driver about an approaching signal.
Cancellation of lesser important trains has also been planned.
During fog, the maximum speed of trains will also be decreased. The minimum limit will be the driver's discretion. Inspections by officials have been increased. Devices to check visibility have been sent to several stations.
"When needed, the automatic signalling system will be modified to a semi-automatic signalling system. The staff has also been trained to work under the new system," the official said.