Rs. 27 crore sanctioned for the project

Southern Railway will extend the Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) currently deployed in the Madras Beach-Central-Gummidipoondi EMU sector to the 68-km Beach-Arakkonam section.

The Railway Board has sanctioned Rs.27 crore for the project and tender works are under process, official sources told The Hindu.

The project involves linking up about 400 signals on the Beach-Arakkonam route and laying track-side equipment (installation and wiring of Line-side Electronic Units) and their interfacing with balises (electronic beacons) installed on the track.

The TPWS, which deploys the state-of-the-art European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS-Level 1)) technology, creates a signalling loop that will not only warn drivers of obstructions ahead but help regulate speed of trains and, in dire cases, even activate emergency braking systems automatically in case of failure of the pilot to heed warning signs.

One of the priorities for the Railways as it seeks to expand the TPWS circuit would be to avoid the teething troubles that surfaced during the pilot phase on the Beach-Gummidipoondi sector.

During operations —about 800 suburban services are run every day on this fairly busy sector —drivers of the 82 EMUs fitted with on-board consoles have complained of high level of electro-magnetic interference and back-EMF (electromotive force).

“We are in the final phase of resolving these issues and customising the technology to suit Indian conditions. We expect to put in place a much better integrated signal system shortly,” S. Manohar, Chief Signal and Telecom Engineer, Southern Railway told The Hindu.

The functioning of the TPWS is being reviewed every week by the chiefs of the signal systems and the electrical engineering verticals at Railways.

The work on the TPWS commenced as a pilot on the 48-km Madras Beach-Gummidipoondi EMU section in 2005-06 with the Railways mandating Ansaldo STS (Union Switch and Signal) with the project. The TPWS was eventually commissioned in May, 2008.

Officials point out that the TPWS provides additional layers of safety in a fully automatic signal circuit like the Chennai Division without compromising on the density of traffic or the speedy despatch of train services every three or five minutes.

The system uses on-board computer consoles, or the Driver-Machine Interface, connected via wireless to track-side balise devices that use electro-magnetic induction to change the traffic light from the default green to red whenever a train rolls by.

The system facilitates running trains at maximum permitted speeds, allows EMU drivers to slow down to stipulated speeds instead of stopping at a red signal and activates emergency braking to prevent collision in case of signal violations or over-speeding past a red signal.

Following the adoption of European Rail Traffic Management System in suburban services in Chennai —the first time the technology was deployed outside Europe —a similar system is also being trialled on the Delhi-Agra section of Northern/North Central Railway.

Meanwhile, Indian Railway has also commissioned its arm, RITES, to develop a more basic version of TPWS to spread this system of signalling wider in the Railway network.

At present, barely 3 per cent of the route kilometres on the Railways are covered by automatic signal systems, Railway officials said.

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