Thousands of commuters would have had a smoother ride if the Central Railway had gone ahead with its plan to install digital axle counters (DAC), which helps improve the signalling system during monsoon.
The device, which is fitted on the railway tracks, helps inform the controllers when a train has entered a particular stretch. It counts the number of axles that pass on the stretch, and if the counts from both ends don’t match, it does not give clearance for another train.
In 2009, the railway authorities had planned to install DACs in Mumbai suburban section as a part of the World Bank-funded Mumbai Urban Transport Project II project.
At least 1,000 DACs were to be installed on the entire stretch from CST to Thane station, including vulnerable locations such as Kalyan and Ravali junction near Wadala. However, till now the device has been installed only at a few flood-prone locations, that too on trial basis.
Currently, there are around 70 DACs on the CR at various locations.
Sources in the CR said the situation at Kalyan on Tuesday would have been in control if the device had been installed. Track crossing points and signaling system had tripped at Kalyan due to waterlogging.
“As the axle counters were installed on three lines connecting platform number five to seven at Kalyan, the signaling system was not very badly affected,” said a senior CR official, adding that they needed 71 more DACs.
According to sources, in 2011, the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation awarded Rs55 crore contract to Invensys Rail Pty Ltd- Frauscher Consortium for installation of DACs on the CR. However, a year later, the prototype of the DAC is yet to get ‘Research, Design and Standardisation Organisation (RDSO) clearance.
Ravi Agrawal, MRVC spokesperson and project director, said, “The prototype was approved a few months ago and is undergoing field trials. It needs to be tested during the rains and are hence installed at flood-prone locations.”
The CR officials said they had planned a Rs38 crore project to cover the rest of the section between CST and Kalyan.