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Close to 350 faulty signals found on CR

Jan 22, 2024 07:34 AM IST

Nearly 347 signals on the Main and Harbour lines of Mumbai's Central Railway need attention, with 18-20 in critical condition and requiring relocation. The signal poles are being inspected for defects and poor placement, which is affecting visibility for motormen. The railway authorities are considering relocating the signal poles to improve visibility and are also exploring the use of technology, including the installation of the Signal Location Announcement System to alert motormen of upcoming signals.

Mumbai: Days after a faulty signalling incident near Ulhasnagar station came forth, a detailed scrutiny found that nearly 347 signals on the Main and Harbour lines of Central Railway (CR) need attention. Around 18-20 signals are in critical condition and need to be shifted to prevent untoward incidents, said railway sources.

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These signal poles are one of the factors responsible for safe train operations. More than 1,200 signal poles control train operations in Mumbai. Sources said that over the past few days, CR has been inspecting the signals either for defects or for poor placement which is causing visibility issues to motormen.

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“As of now, close to 347 signal poles need attention for different reasons. Its improvement will lead to overall efficiency in the system and train operations,” said a senior CR official on condition of anonymity.

There are broadly two issues being studied; the first is the alignment of signal poles, and the second is technical failures. In December last year, the motormen and railway unions objected to signal visibility. Initially, there were 40 such signal poles identified that were causing visibility issues.

“These were deemed unsafe, and permission was sought to be relocated. Since then, inspections have been underway across the Mumbai Division,” said another senior CR official.

The railway union representatives stated that these signal poles should ideally be on the right-hand side which improves visibility to the motormen. The rail authorities are also looking at the option of putting it up on the gantry like the ones that we find signals above the road for vehicular traffic.

Earlier this month, in two different back-to-back incidents alert motormen spotted a train barely 100-200 meters away. However, there was a yellow signal indicating that the train could pass. This failure happened near Ulhasnagar station, and the CR authorities have taken this seriously and are inspecting the signalling system prevent the recurrence of a similar incident.

After this incident, the railway unions put up posters objecting to such incidents. Meanwhile, the CR authorities are taking the help of technology and artificial intelligence as a solution to tighten the signalling system.

A system called Signal Location Announcement System (SILAS) is being installed inside the motorman cab that will announce the presence of an upcoming signal pole displaying red to the motormen.

“It has already been installed inside the motor cab of one local train. In the coming days, this equipment will be installed inside 10 more rakes that will run on both CSMT-Karjat/Kasara and CSMT-Panvel lines,” said a CR official. The SILAS is likely to help in avoiding jumping off a red signal that is considered an accident.

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