Several diesel locomotives homed at the Tiruchi Diesel Loco Shed have been brought under the scope of a GPS-based monitoring system to help railway officials track their location and guide the loco pilots in case of emergency.

Nearly 60 per cent of the diesel locos, of the ‘Alco’ and ‘EMD’ types, housed at the Tiruchi shed have been equipped with the Remote Monitoring and Management of Locomotives and Trains (REMMLOT) system for real-time monitoring.

The over 40-year-old Tiruchi shed is a major establishment in the Southern Railway zone, homing over 100 diesel locomotives, besides housing diesel electric multiple units.

Railway officials say the REMMLOT system has been established in 21 ‘Alco’ locos and 38 ‘EMD’ high horsepower locomotives — both of which are equipped with microprocessor-based control systems.

Antennas have been installed in the external portion of the locos to receive and transmit signals through satellite.

The antenna is connected to the remote monitoring card installed in the locomotive to communicate through the GSM and CDMA networks. Through a dedicated website created under the REMMLOT system with a user ID and password, technical personnel at the shed can easily track the location of the locomotive and monitor its performance even while it was passing through a remote location.

Other vital parameters, including speed, lube oil pressure, fuel oil pressure, and battery voltage, could also be accessed by feeding the loco number into the system, a senior railway official said.

Information pertaining to glitches in the loco while on the move is automatically conveyed to the personnel at the shed through SMS.

Whole data pertaining to technical faults could be downloaded.

The striking feature is that technical personnel can offer solutions to the loco pilots whenever the locomotives stop midway because of a snag, the officials say. The solutions are offered directly to the pilots through mobile phones or the control office.

While the ‘Alco’ locos homed in the Tiruchi shed are operated within the Southern Railway zone, the ‘EMD’ locos are operated in South Central Railway, South Western Railway and Konkan Railway.

Tiruchi is the lone shed in the Southern Railway zone to home over 50 ‘EMD’ locos that can run at a maximum speed of 120-140 km per hour.