Railways to install new passenger safety system
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Railways to install new passenger safety system

Train accidents have been brought down from over a 100 during the 1990s to 16 in the past year, reports Hemendra Singh Bartwal.

india Updated: Oct 08, 2006 23:28 IST

Train accidents may be a thing of the past. The Railways is now developing a highly advanced, foolproof protection and warning system that can prevent the possibility of train collision due to driver's error.

Though the dated manual signalling procedure in the Indian Railways has now been completely replaced with automated signalling and the hi-tech 'track circuiting' system that minimises the possibility of collisions, major accidents still happen sometimes due to negligence or error of judgement on the engine driver's part.

"While so much money and effort is being put into developing all kinds of latest signalling systems, adequate thought had not been given so far to the human factor involved in train accidents.

What about the man who is actually driving the train? Despite all the correct signals and indications, he can still make a mistake, due to some reason or the other, leading to a major collision," pointed out KK Bajpeyee, the Managing Director of RailTel Corporation of India, the PSU, which handles the entire telecommunication operation of the Indian Railways.

This is where the 'Train protection and warning system' (TPWS) comes in whereby an onboard computer sounds an alarm to the driver if he fails to give the correct response to a negative signal on the tracks ahead.

If he still fails to react, the safety mechanism automatically applies the brakes to bring the train to a halt.

The intricacies of this safety system will figure prominently in the deliberations with engineers from several foreign railways during a two-day international conference on railway telecommunication and signalling that began in New Delhi on Friday.

The conference is being organised by the Institute of Railway Signalling and Telecommunication Engineers (IRSTE).

According to Arun Saksena, Executive Director (Signal) in the Railway Ministry, though the number of train accidents has been brought down from over a 100 during the 1990s to 16 in the past year, it would be possible to reduce this to a minimum by using the TPWS on all high-speed train routes across the country.

The system, which is widely used in the railways abroad, has been initiated on a pilot basis on two routes - Delhi Agra and Chennai-Gummidipoondi - as efforts are on to customise it to the Indian conditions, he stated.

Its implementation on all prominent routes would require a major financial commitment, but it is expected to be taken up in a big way during the next decade, Saksena added.

First Published: Oct 08, 2006 21:31 IST