The second decade of the new millennium may just usher in safer train journeys. The Indian Railways has finally started work on its much-delayed plan to fit passenger trains with anti-collision devices (ACDs). The project is worth Rs 8,100 crore.
Note, that since April this year, there have been 94 train accidents, resulting in 300 deaths. Termed worst may be the July 19 collision between the Uttarbanga Express and Vananchal Express at Sainthia in West Bengal, which claimed 62 lives. Experts insist ACDs could have helped prevent it.
"The final trials of the ACD will be complete by January 10, when the product will be ready for implementation," Konkan Railways Corporation managing director Bhanu Tayal recently told a group of visiting journalists at Madgaon.
In the first phase, ACDs are planned for Southern, South Central, South Western and South Eastern railway zones.
Jointly being conducted by Konkan Railways, Railway Board and the Research Design and Standards Organization, trials began on the Chennai-Arrakonam section of Southern Railways on December 18.
Konkan Railways has the patent for the ACD, developed after the 1999 accident at Gaisal in West Bengal, which accounted for 268 deaths.
"After completion of the trials, the product will be put up for validation by the department of telecommunications. My guess is that the ACDs will be put in the implementation mode by April next," Tayal said.
The product is being manufactured by the Hyderabad-based Kernex Microsystems, which has the capacity to produce 500 ACDs per month.
Given the manufacturing capacity, it would take a decade to implement the project across the country’s 18 railway zones.