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Is the anti-collision device system being derailed?

The Indian Railways is testing the anti-collision system with only two of the original four devices planned for each train, ostensibly to save money. But this could compromise its performance, preparing the ground for the purchase of expensive foreign technology

The Indian Railways is conducting field adoption tests for its indigenously developed and patented anti-collision device (ACD). But the man who invented the technology says that the manner in which the trials are being conducted, it appears there is a plan to scuttle the devices, in order to buy some new, perhaps more expensive technology.

It has been reported that with an aim to save costs, the Railways is planning to remove the ACD from the guard van and the mid-section of the locomotive, as well as doing away with the repeater ACD tower. According to Rajaram Bojji (better known as B Rajaram), former managing director of Konkan Railway who also invented the ACD technology, such a move would seriously compromise reliability and availability of inter-communication between ACDs, rendering them incapable of delivering assured protection to trains on double lines and at level crossing gates. Removing the ACDs from the guard van and the mid-section would affect the working principle of the system as it is a network of four ACDs combined. “With only two ACDs instead of four, the devices are compromised to a lower level of performance,” he said.

“Cutting down 50% of the ACDs in the network reduces the ACD functionality and integrity very severely. Rear-end collisions and upgrading to moving block systems, operational unpredictability of cutting and joining train units at stations, are scenarios that are addressed by the provision of the guard ACD,” Mr Bojji explained.

“Actually there are 550 dimensions in the software simulation and without taking into account the impact, administratively taking such a major decision is truly amazing. That means, what is being tested is not the proven ACD of the North Frontier (NF) Railway, but experiments for some new product with degraded functionality and performance,” he said.

The Indian Railways is relying heavily on the track circuits and not on the ACDs in the guard van. “A non-interlocked working system will seriously affect ACDs and its presence would be nullified. Latency in communication will also delay the decision-making in the ACD. So removing the guard ACD and building up reliance on track circuits seriously compromises the integrity of the ACD network,” the former chief of Konkan Railway said.

To adopt the proven ACD system on electrified multiple lines, two issues need to be studied:  One is how to fit the equipment in locomotives and guard vans, and two is about how the locomotive electronics and ACD systems interact without interference with each other. Some shielding and earthing issues need to be addressed, Mr Bojji said.

He said that the reception of the global positioning satellite (GPS) under traction wires was already proven in surveys conducted in these areas earlier, but that could be one more item to look at again.

The ACD can be mounted on the locomotive using non-conductive fibreglass with self-locking. As far as fixing the track ID for the multiple electrified lines was concerned, he said, sometimes it could be challenged purely on the deviation count, but this could be solved with the supplemental RFID tags and mounted readers that was provided in the ACD software.

Anti-collision devices (ACDs) are microprocessor-based, communication-capable, GPS-enabled compact devices with special world-recognised, intelligent, self-deducing capability that require no human inputs, but draw strength from networking with each other—mounted on locomotives, at stations, the last vehicle, at level crossing gates and other vulnerable locations.

Earlier, the Indian Railways had decided to adopt the European technology Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) on busy rail routes to avoid collisions.

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COMMENTS

Java

7 years ago

When it is eventually compelled to, the Railways will get an expensive device, which will enable a few pockets to be lined. Very important for the smooth functioning of democracy, you see.

REPLY

Java

In Reply to Java 7 years ago

That should read "an expensive, imported device"

Ramky Infrastructure has mixed debut

Mumbai: Ramky Infrastructure, the flagship company of the Ramky Group, had a mixed debut on the stock exchanges today.

The stock opened flat on the Bombay Stock Exchange, against its issue price of Rs450, then slipped over 12% to Rs393.75 in the first hour of trade. It did better on the National Stock Exchange, opening nearly five per cent higher at Rs471.55.

Over 60 lakh shares of the company were traded on the two bourses in the first hour of trade. The Ramky Group is in the business of construction and infrastructure as well as environment and waste management.

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