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CR introduces equipment to warn motormen of red signals

Dec 05, 2023 07:34 AM IST

The Central Railway in Mumbai has installed a Signal Location Announcement System (SILAS) in a local train to prevent trains passing red signals. SILAS will announce the presence of upcoming signal poles displaying red to the motormen, helping to prevent accidents. The equipment will be installed in 10 more trains in the coming days. This decision came after a recent incident where a train jumped a red signal. SILAS alerts the motormen when the train is 350 metres and then 250 metres away from the upcoming signal pole.

Mumbai: In a first, the Central Railway (CR) has come up with a possible solution to curb the occurrence of trains passing the red signal, an equipment has been installed in a local train inside the motor cab that has data of all the 2000-odd signal poles on CR’s suburban system to prevent potential accidents.

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The Signal Location Announcement System (SILAS) 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 Mainline and CSMT-Panvel Harbour line,” said a CR official.

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The decision to install SILAS came after a close shave on August 31 after a local train jumped a red signal and entered the wrong rail line at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

Senior CR officials said while the primary fault was of the motorman who allegedly got confused while identifying the correct signal pole, there were discussions on the issues and probable measures to avert such incidents in the future.

As a thumb rule, signal poles need to be on the left. However, there are close to 100-150 signal poles that are on the right-hand side owing to either lack of space or there is a steep curvature on the rail line which makes placing the signal pole on the right more feasible.

Essentially, SILAS is a box-shaped GPS-enabled equipment that is fed with information about all the signals on the route. It is placed on the dashboard, and therefore easily accessible to motormen. A note explaining this system mentions that in EMU local trains, the motormen must perform the complex task of observing signal aspects (red, yellow, double yellow, and green) in the automatic signaling system during the trips.

“It is a must for a motorman to identify the proper location of an upcoming signal in both Up and Down directions on Fast and Slow lines. SILAS helps the motormen as it announces the signal location and its distance from the train’s position,” said a senior CR official.

This equipment alerts when the train is 350 metres and then again when it’s 250 metres away from the upcoming signal pole. Presently on the suburban rail system, the signal poles are at a distance of 450-750 meters apart on a single rail line.

Elaborating further about this equipment, there is a speaker at the center of this box with buttons on each side. Each button indicates the route and if the train will run on fast or slow lines. The motorman has to select the route, Mainline or Harbour line, and whether it’s a Fast or Slow train to activate SILAS.

“SILAS will announce if the signal is on the right or left side or even on extreme right or left on routes where the rail lines are on steep curves. After passing a single yellow signal it will announce the next red signal in front,” said a CR official.

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