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Updated: September 9, 2013 02:58 IST

Railways to cover State with OFC network

M. Dinesh Varma
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To provide vital communication link for carrying out train operations

Southern Railway’s Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) network that provides vital communication link for carrying out train operations is headed for total coverage of the State in two years.

The network forms the backbone of all communication in the railway system ranging from train control, station master-to-station master or station master-to-driver contact and emergency alerts. It also supports the entire unreserved ticketing and passenger reservation systems.

RailTel Corporation of India (RailTel), the telecommunication arm of the Railways, is currently focusing on building OFC architecture along three important routes – the Vriddhachalam-Salem section (136 km), the Coimbatore-Pollachi-Dindigul stretch (160 km) and the Villupuram-Mayiladuthurai-Kumbakonam-Thanjavur segment (220 km).

“We expect the sanctioned work on the three routes will be completed in the next few months,” said R. Bhaskaran, Group General Manager, RailTel.

Almost 70 per cent of the OFC laying work along the Vriddachalam-Salem segment was over, while the work on the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur section of the Kollam-Tiruchendur gauge conversion project and Salem-Mettur Dam segments were in a fairly advanced stage, officials said.

On a national scale, RailTel has built up OFC infrastructure over 45,000 kilometres, and work on another 60,000 km is under various stages of progress. The southern region accounts for over 10,000 km of OFC, including about 2,500 km in Tamil Nadu currently.

In Tamil Nadu, the completion of OFC work on the three important routes would leave out the Tiruchi-Karaikudi-Manamadurai section (about 150 km) from the network. The proposal for work on this section was awaiting clearance from the Railway Board and was expected to be sanctioned shortly, officials said. “Once this work is through, the Railways will have complete OFC connectivity in the State,” said S. Selvadurai, RailTel general manager.

The 24-fibre OFC network coexists with the underground quad cables that have fully replaced overhead lines and serve signalling needs.

The last standing overhead communication line on the 47 km Ooty-Mettupalayam segment gave way for underground OFC about six months ago.

With OFC expansion over the years, the Railway’s dependence on communication channels hired from the BSNL had been brought down to about 10 per cent, an official said.

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