Have you ever wondered how local trains, running at high speeds during peak hours just a few metres away from each other, save themselves from collision? You can now find out by visiting the Western Railway’s heritage gallery, which has put up for display a working model of the railway’s signalling system.
Mumbai’s local trains are fitted with the Auxiliary Warning System (AWS). This machine brings the local train to a halt automatically if the motorman fails to stop when the light is red at the signal, and drives ahead. The AWS also warns the motorman if he has crossed a signal that has turned yellow (indicating that another train has just passed but is not yet a safe distance away).
On hearing the warning, which is a hoot, the motorman is expected to slow down. Then, if the speed is not brought to 43kmph, the AWS brings the train to a halt.
To explain this system to commuters, WR engineers have created a miniature model of the system. A team of 12 engineers, from the Senior Section Engineers’s office at Andheri, worked on the model for four months. It has been set up at the WR’s heritage gallery, at its headquarters, opposite the Churchgate station.
Sharat Chandrayan, chief PRO, WR said: “It is because of the AWS system that 69 lakh commuters can travel safely. We thought it would be interesting to show people how our system works.”
The model comprises two railway stations, named Andheri and Bandra, with six signals between them. The train comes to a halt automatically when the signal turns red.