The Railways plan to introduce bullet trains in the country and train protecting warning system that applies automatic brakes. But when it comes to the yearly problem of tackling fog, it still relies heavily on the age-old method of bursting detonators to give signals to drivers.
While your train cuts through the fog in almost zero visibility on a chilly December day, it isn't a hi-tech GPS or any anti-collision device that is keeping your train on the right track. It's the 'fog men' and detonators that the railway uses.
And this year, just like every year, the railways have procured detonators, which are burst along the track by the 'fog men' to give audio signals to train drivers in dense fog. The railways have also installed fog safety devices in around 550 trains but their faith lies mostly with the detonators.
Each costing around R100, these detonators are burst to inform a driver that a signal is approaching. "Fog men burst these detonators to give audio signals to train drivers that the next signal is 275 metre away. Though it's an age old method, it is considered as the most reliable," said SK Sharma, Chief PRO, Northern Railways.
Foreseeing a long spell of fog, the railways have procured more detonators this year. "Last year, the fog was mild, so only 70,000-80,000 detonators were burst. This year we expect the fog to be around for 45-50 days, so we have procured 1.35 lakh detonators," said Sharma.
The authorities also use fog safety devises that were introduced recently but are not considered foolproof. Fog safety device, a small box with an antenna, costs somewhere around R50,000.
The Delhi division of northern railways will be installing fog safety device in all 1,300 trains, including goods trains.