SK Sharma, chief PRO, Northern Railways, in an interview with Hindustan Times talks about the impending winter fog and Railways effort towards an accident-free season.
There are reports that the fog safety device is not foolproof?
It is only an aid given to drivers. It all depends on the eyesight of the drivers, who are very happy with the device. We are regularly working on the feedback - that has been encouraging - to improve our system. We have installed the device in 400 trains - both passenger and goods. Gradually, it will be installed in around 680 trains. Our requirement is of 1,300 devices.
Primitive methods such as cracker burning to alert locomotive drivers are still being used during fog. Aren't these outdated?
We are assimilating new technology gradually. We have installed global positioning system at railway stations and trial runs are being performed in trains as well. On Agra and Delhi route, we are conducting a pilot run of GPS technology in trains. But a lot depends on the driver during fog. No machine can replace him, but yes, GPS does make it safer. Anti-collision device and train protection warning system is also under trial on several lines.
Passengers often complain of not being given right information on delays and cancellation of trains. How soon can they expect live feeds?
With the new technology we are bringing in, we'll be able to provide real time information very soon. The new SIMRAN technology, which is being tested in 12 trains currently, will give second by second updates on the location of the train to passenger through SMS. There is a lot that we are doing, but it will all take some time to be fully functional.