An improved version of Anti Collision Devices (ACDs), the GPS-based equipment designed to prevent collisions in the Railway network, will be evaluated for validation of test results by September this year by an independent agency, following the successful completion of trials.

ACDs, an indigenous set of devices patented by the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL), have been designed for onboard deployment (loco engines) and track-side fitment (railway stations).

The technology uses a combination of GPS navigation and terrestrial radio communication (UHF signals) among a network of ACDs to activate automatic braking systems when two trains get within a radius of three km of each other on the same track.

The ACDs underwent a month-long trial on the 43-km Pattabiram-Arakkonam stretch in September 2010. Following a series of simulated on-field tests, the Railway Board commissioned a re-trial in January 2011 after incorporating several modifications in the ACDs software.

The important changes included fixing bugs in the original version and addressing the fairly large-scale unwarranted braking episodes and frequent generation of junk data.

“Version 2.0 of the ACDs that emerged out of the second round of trials is a significantly improved software design,” S. Manohar, Chief, Signal and Telecom Engineer, Southern Railway, told TheHindu.

Based on the joint trials involving the KRCL, Southern Railway and the Research Design and Standards Organisation, the Railway Board decided that the suite of system designs, application software and source code for the ACDs product will be secured by KRCL.

The KRCL would share the hardware design with RDSO, which would explore options of manufacturing the hardware at nominated signal workshops or invite expression of interest from third parties. The ACDs software will be transferred to Railways' IT arm the Centre for Railway Information Systems.

The revised plan for implementing ACDs in Railway limits the deployment of devices to the locos and railway stations and avoids installations at level crossings or guard vans of trains. Instead, the revised version of ACDs incorporates an algorithm that gauges the length of the train and obviates the need for equipment in the guard van, Mr. Manohar said.

ACDs are envisioned to provide an extra layer of safety and security (a ‘raksha kavach' or safety shield) to the Railways' signalling and interlocking systems that have been benchmarked to be of level 4 against international safety standards.

ACDs Version 2.0 is to be independently evaluated for validation of trial results by the Electronics Test and Development Center here. The agency is expected to complete evaluation by July-August and the validation expected within a couple of months after that, Railway sources said.

The nature of the indigenous ACD technology is such that its success and reliability hinges on the complete networking of the entire passenger and cargo fleet.

While presenting the Railway Budget for this fiscal, former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, had announced that an improved version of ACDs would be commissioned in Southern Railway along with South Central and South Western Railways encompassing a route length of 1,600 km.

The Railways, which initially piloted the technology on Konkan (800 kms) and North East Frontier Railway (1736 kms) zones, plans to introduce ACDs in eight of the 17 Zonal Railways in the country in this fiscal.