Having resolved to finally remove the stigma of being world's most accident-prone railway network, Indian Railways is pinning its hopes on under-trial 'Accident Collision Device' and 'Railways Vision 2050' projects besides a host of safety provisions made in the Railway Budget 2002-2003 by Nitish Kumar.
"The trials for the Accident Collision Device are continuing and it is likely to be installed by the end of this year. Another project in the pipeline is the Railways Vision for 2050," says the Secretary, Railway Board, R K Singh Singh.
Accident Collision Device: Estimated to cost over Rs. 2,500 crore, this system aims at preventing collisions. Developed by Konkan Railway Corporation, it involves imported hardware but indigenous software. There have been 25 collisions among over 460 accidents last year. "At least 15-20 per cent of the collisions can be averted by this technology," an official said.
Under the system, a geo-positioning satellite equipment is fitted in the engine and the guard-coach of each train to relay co-ordinates from the train to the satellite which is beamed back to other accident collision devices within the radio range of about 1.5 km. In case the data received is not normal, the device in the train automatically applies brakes, averting collisions. It will also improve safety levels at unmanned level crossings.
The patent of the device is with the President of India. It is said to be much more advanced than the European train controller system.
Budgetary Provisions 2002-2003: The Railway Budget 2002-2003 has made special provisions for safety of the passengers. It has planned Rs. 17,000 crore Special Railway Safety Fund (SRSF) to replace age-old assets in next six years.
Under the move, about 17,000 km of track will be renewed, over 3,000 bridges rebuilt and signal gears will be replaced at about 1000 stations.
There are over 120,000 steel bridges, a lot of which are ageing and accident-prone.
Check on human error/alcoholism: Statutory enquiries in train accidents have found that over 70% of the mishaps have been caused by the failure of railway staff.
A Railway Ministry survey has found alcoholism among field staff to be a major cause of human error leading to mishaps, and suggested breathalyser tests and random checks for the staff among other measures as suggested by various high-power committees, says CM Khosla, an ex-member of the Indian Railway Board.
Oscillation Monitoring Systems: Railway Ministry has signed a deal with Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) for design development and mass production of the state-of-the-art Oscillation Monitoring Systems. The OMS, to be fitted in one coach in a train, will help in monitoring the track through data acquisition. It will reveal the fault area by recording the vibrations using the latest Micro Technology developed by CSIO.
European Train Control System: Indian Railways has also taken up a pilot project at the Palwal-Mathura section to install the European Train Control System (ETCS), level II. This is an automatic system that warns the driver about the track.
Spurt Monitoring Trains: The Research Design Standard Organisation of the Railway Ministry has also proposed to acquire a few spurt trains at a cost of Rs. 36 trains for better track monitoring.