This winter, railway authorities in Delhi are trying to ensure that trains to and from the Capital are the least hit with delays and cancellations because of fog.
After dillydallying for over two years with the technology at trials and pilot projects, Northern Railway will finally deploy the Fog Safe Rail Device in 500 locomotives this season. Order for the machines has already been placed.
The device, which uses GPS technology to tell drivers when they are approaching a signal, helps them correct their speed despite poor visibility and provide smooth and safe operation.
The Delhi division alone is acquiring 500 units — at a cost of about R30,000 each — from a private technology firm. The devices come in compact, portable form and can be easily installed in locomotives at short notice.
“Each machine can be reattached in multiple locomotives, but final deployment strategy is being worked out at the headquarters. We can safely say that at least 500 trains to and from Delhi will have this technology,” said Amitabh Kumar, additional divisional railway manager (operations), Delhi.
More locomotive pilots
The Northern Railway, in a first, will also deploy the maximum number of drivers (called locomotive pilots) during the fog season to ensure every run is completed on time.
Usually a pilot travels 200-300 km on his eight-hour duty during fog. “If we have more pilots, we can deploy more per stretch and keep the operations smooth,” Kumar said.
In winters, when dense fog blankets most of the country’s northern parts of the country, railway stations wear a look of utter chaos. Thousands of stranded passengers park themselves at platforms and in waiting rooms, not knowing when their trains will arrive or depart.
Hundreds of trains are diverted, cancelled and delayed during this period.
Real-time info on all trains
This season, the railways will also link the information boards at stations, telephonic help-lines and even enquiry counters directly to the Operations Control Centre-nerve centre that keeps track of train movement in any division and communicates with pilots and stations.