Rail traffic, hit hard by the fog, just got worse. All trains have been told to go slow, Even the Rajdhanis are running at a maximum pace of 60 km per hour and at 30 km per hour in stretches with poor visibility.
The super-fast trains normally run at 110 km per hour.
Reason: The trains aren’t equipped with good enough technology to fight the blinding fog. “We would rather be safe than punctual,” said a source, requesting anonymity.
On heavy fog days, the Rajdhanis have been clocking five-to-six-hour delays. In the last few days, combined with the decision to run slow, delays have stretched to 15 to 20 hours.
On Wednesday, the Sealdah Rajdhani from Kolkata arrived at New delhi Railway Station 20 hours 15 minutes late. The Rajender Nagar Rajdhani,
running from Bihar, was delayed by 11 hours.
“Trains with routes on the Indo-Gangetic plains are suffering the majority of delays,” the source said.
Worldwide, transport utilities use a host of modern techniques to fight fog. In the US and China, methods like spraying of salt are used. Even India’s airlines have the CAT-III landing system to operate smoothly in dense fog.
But the Railways still use a 150-year-old technique of placing detonators on the tracks. The detonators explode when the trains pass, alerting the driver to a signal ahead.
“This has been a reliable technology for years,” said Railways spokesman Anil Saxena.
For years, the Railways have been toying with technologies like the Anti-Collision Device (ACD) and Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS). The ACD works on GPS and whenever two trains are within 3 km of each other on the same track, the brakes are applied automatically. The TPWS applies the brakes on the engines the moment a train violates a red signal.
The ACD is being perfected at the Konkan Railway and will be introduced in three zones in south India shortly. “The TPWS is being run between Delhi and Agra on trial,” Saxena said.