The Railways has decided to implement an expensive foreign technology to check same-track collisions. This comes as a setback of sorts as Lucknow's Research Design and Standards Organisation — the sole R&D wing of the Railways — was awaiting Railway Board's nod to put in place India's own anti-collision device.
"Yes, the indigenous and cost-effective anti-collision device (ACD) system developed by the Konkan Railway has been ignored. The Railways is going for the European technology of Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) to avoid collisions," a senior RDSO official told Hindustan Times.
Top RDSO official Brajesh Gupta had recently told HT, "A pilot project of ACD was successfully commissioned by the North-East Frontier Railway. ACD's specification has been sent to the Railway Board after slight modification."
The homegrown system is certified by all tests of the RDSO and through field implementation to able to prevent collisions in mid-section, at a station and near stations.
It's also being said that TPWS, apart from being expensive, is less efficient too compared to the ACD. Rajaram Bojji, ACD's inventor and former MD, Konkan Railway, has already written to the Railways. The Railway Minister has reportedly been told that the European system is more expensive and cannot match ACD when it comes to collision prevention.
"The ACD cost Rs 7 lakh per locomotive. TPWS is estimated to cost Rs70 lakh per km and will be implemented over an 828-km rail stretch. The total cost for installing the TPWS would be about Rs 579.60 crore. The Indian system should not have been condemned without being put to use," said a senior RDSO official.
Mamata unhappy with RDSO, research shifted to IIT-KGP
Major Railway research has already shifted to IIT Kharagpur after Mamata Banerjee recently expressed displeasure with RDSO's functioning. IIT Kharagpur will carry out extensive research on developing cutting edge technologies, including high-speed trains and better security mechanisms, for Indian Railways.
An MoU has already been signed in this connection. A Centre for Railway Research (CRR) has also been set up at the institute for the purpose. The railway ministry will to begin with allocate Rs 120 crore for the centre.
Railway officers will be sent on deputation to CRR to participate in R&D projects — so far synonym with the RDSO — and training programmes. The CRR will offer programmes in research areas related to the railways.
What is TPWS
If the train jumps the red signal, brakes will be applied automatically. Most recent accidents took place due to trains jumping red signals in foggy conditions. But experts say unless the driver observes a lot of discipline, the system fails in protection.