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European solution for Mumbai's local trains

Trains will soon use a state-of-the-art radio device for quicker communication between the train?s staff and control room, reports Rajendra Aklekar.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 00:58 IST

Central Railways has sought an European solution to drop the delay chart of its local trains. Its motormen and guard have now been equipped with a state-of-the-art and fool-proof radio device that would allow quicker communication between the train’s staff and the control room.

The best part of it is that unlike commercial mobile phone networks, this system, developed by European Telecommunciations Standards Institute, will not be affected by adverse weather and not get jammed during any point of time.

Without much fanfare, the Central Railway quietly equipped 80 of their trains with the network on 26 January. The CR general manager VK Kaul made the inaugural call from a local train at CST to the control room on January 26.

And how will it help commuters? If a train is stranded mid-way, today the train driver has to inform the nearest station, which then informs the control room, which diverts trains that are following the stranded train. All this takes time.

With the new system, the train driver can immediately inform the control room, which can take charge of the situation and inform the following trains, avoiding any loss of delay. In a month, there are 4-5 such cases on an average.

 “Of the 105 trains that we have, 80 have been installed with the new system. The entire cost of the project is Rs 12 crore. Mobile communication is a part of the Rs 35.7 crore Train Describer System project which will centralize control of suburban railway from a single point,” SC Mudgerikar, CR’s chief PRO told HT.

“Unlike commercial mobile phones, this system will work on Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA), which is a 2-way radio system effective for advanced data transfer, mobile telephony and non-blocking voice. The quality and clarity of voice will be much more clearer than a normal mobile phone,” he said.

TETRA is the modern digital Private Mobile Radio and Public Access Mobile Radio (PAMR) technology for police, ambulance and fire services, security services, utilities, military, public access, fleet management, transport services, closed user groups, factory site services and mining.

With support of the European Commission, TETRA is receiving global acceptance, with contracts and commitments already in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Far East, Australasia, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Russia and China, and with strong interest also being shown in North America.

“The existing network will be effective between CSTM to Kalyan and we have erected special radio towers for this purpose at Sion station, Kalwa Hill and CST. We will soon extend the network further,” he said.

But will the motorman and guard will able to tell commuters about the problem? Not as yet. “We are working on installing speakers in local trains which will then allow us to inform passengers about the problem.

Asked how much loss in time would it save for the railways, a senior railway official, on the condition of anonymity, said it is difficult to calculate the actual loss of time.

“Punctuality is calculated on percentage basis on the basis of train’s arrival and departure. And on an average, as of today the punctuality rate has been 95 per cent. The new radio system will help us better this rate further.

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