New Delhi: The Indian Railways has cleared a Rs12 billion proposal to equip electric locomotives with the latest European train protection system.
At its meeting on December 15, the Railway Board cleared the proposal to equip 6,000 electric locomotives with European Train Control System (ETCS) Level-II to help drivers to prevent rail mishaps, a senior Railway Ministry official said.
Besides this, the board also decided to install the ETCS Level-II system on the 9,054-kilometre Golden Quadrilateral route connecting the four metros to make it an accident-free corridor.
The project to ensure ETCS Level-II compliance is expected to cost around Rs12 billion.
There are cases where accidents occur due to human error caused by stressful situations.
Currently, the Railways has a basic automatic train protection system based on the ETCS Level-I specification to provide back-up to locomotive pilots on a limited stretch.
Known as a “train protection warning system”, the facility based on ETCS Level-I has been implemented on about 342 kilometres of rail route. Gatiman Express, running at 160km/h between Nizamuddin and Agra, safely runs at this speed protected by the system.
However, it was decided to upgrade the system to put it on a par with world standards as the ETCS Level-I has limitations.
In a train protection warning system, information regarding the condition of the signals ahead — whether it is red, yellow or green — is communicated to the locomotive and is shown on a display screen called DMI (Driver Machine Interface) in front of the pilot.
In the ETCS Level-I system, this information is periodically received by the train when it passes over a device called “balise”, which is fitted in the middle of the track at intervals.
The limitation placed on information delivery due to the spaces between the balises will be overcome using the ETCS Level-II, which ensures that the status of the signal ahead is continuously available in the locomotive through a wireless radio medium using a GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communication-Railways) network.
GSM-R is similar to the mobile GSM network with some special features for railway applications. With the status of the signal continuously available, the driver can now run the train more efficiently.