The Indian Railways claims to have found a method to prevent train accidents during the foggy season. Ahead of the foggy conditions of the winter months, a Rs 3.96 crore plan, involving the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS)-based fog safe devices, has been put in place for 11,00 passenger trains in fog-prone areas.
Costing Rs 36,000 a piece, these walkie-talkie-type devices display advance information concerning names of approaching signals, level crossings and gates.
"The gadgets — indigenously developed — will provide the much-needed technological aid to loco pilots during foggy weather," a ministry official said.
Foggy conditions are a regular occurrence in December- January, when hundreds of lives are lost in train accidents.
Early this year, about a dozen fog-related accidents were reported. Three of them happened in Uttar Pradesh on January 2.
Called Fogsafe, the gadget weighing 1.4 kg can be carried by the loco pilots and placed in the train engine as they start their journey.
The equipment has been successfully tried out and a month-long training programme on using the machine has been given to train drivers, ministry sources said.
Traditional techniques for alerting drivers ahead of signals involve explosives burst by "fog-men" on duty on the tracks.
Besides being expensive, the method is not foolproof as there are too many variables.
The crackers may fail to burst at the right time. The fog-men may arrive late for duty.
Estimates are that the railways spend Rs 12.5 crore a year on the cracker method during December-January.