Modern European signalling system for Indian Railways! The national transporter is all set to install a modern signalling system on the 850-km long section between Mathura and Vadodara. The project is expected to cost around Rs 2,000 crore. According to sources quoted in an IANS report, the proposal to introduce an automatic train protection (ATP) system, which is a state-of-the-art European Train Controlling System (ETCS) level 2 is being firmed up and will shortly be sent to the Cabinet for approval. This modern signalling system prevents the collision of two trains on the same railway track and the system also updates locomotive pilots on the condition of signals ahead even when the visibility is poor due to fog or other reasons. Indian Railways has said that once the section with modern signally between Mathura and Vadodara becomes operational, the system will be considered for extension on other sections as well, depending upon its performance.
Earlier, the national transporter was planning for complete automation, including the ETCS level 2 system on its entire 60,000 km long broad gauge network at a cost of around Rs 78,000 crore. However, due to the high cost and also for the fact that the new modern signalling system was untested in Indian conditions, the proposal did not find favour with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). In the month of April, the PMO asked Indian Railways to carry out extensive trials in a busy section in order to ascertain its efficacy and then decide on the entire broad gauge network.
As the automation of the signalling system aims to enhance safety as well as speed up train movement on a congested network, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has been in support of this idea.
The national transporter has already tested the ETCS level 1 on 342 km long distance including Agra-Delhi section of 200 km; Chennai suburban railway section of 117 km; and Kolkata’s Metro Railway section of 25 km, wherein locomotives are set up with screens that receive intermittent messages about signals ahead through track-side devices. This reduces the risk of error by locomotive pilot for running over signals due to fog, human error, or over-speeding as the locomotive comes to a halt in case of an error. In the ETCS level 2 system, messages are conveyed continuously to the screen fitted on-board a locomotive through radio waves. A railway official said that as compared to ETCS level 1, the per km cost of implementing the ETCS level 2 is 30 per cent higher.