A lab to study accidents and evaluate safety, digital passenger charts and solar-powered stations are among a handful of innovations the railways is looking at for a “futuristic” makeover.
Technology and innovation will play a key role in the NDA government’s bid to modernise the world’s fourth-largest rail network, as it prepares to open the railways to public-private collaboration in a big way.
According priority to safety and security, the budget proposed to follow a “multi-pronged” path to eliminate unmanned level crossings, such as advanced technology to detect rail and weld fractures, as well as a pilot trial on ultrasonic broken rail detection system (UBRD) at two locations.
Rail minister Sadananda Gowda also announced setting up of a simulation centre to study causes of accidents and devise safety standards matching international norms.
He also proposed an innovations incubation centre to convert ideas from rail staff into practical solutions to increase efficiency.
The railways will harness information technology in various operations, such as real-time tracking of trains and rolling of stocks, mobile-based wake-up call service for passengers, mobile-based destination arrival alert and station navigation information system.
Gowda said the railways would use bio-diesel of up to 5% of total diesel consumption. The number of bio-toilets in trains would be increased to curb direct discharge of human waste on tracks and platforms.
The railways is also set to harness solar energy by utilising roof tops of stations, railways buildings and other assets through private partnerships.