In a major step aimed at enhancing rail safety and preventing accidents, Southern Railway authorities have embarked on the task of installing vigilance control device (VCD) in all non-micro processor controlled ‘Alco' type diesel locomotives.

The micro controller based multi-resetting stand alone VCD is a safety device that will keep the Loco Pilots in a state of high alert throughout the journey.

The safety gadget is being fitted in the diesel locomotives consequent to a direction from the Railway Board, New Delhi, to all the Zonal Railways.

The VCD have so far been fitted in 16 out of the 40 diesel locomotives housed in the Diesel Loco Shed, Tiruchi. They are being installed in locos hauling mail and express trains. Eighty four VCDs have till now been distributed to the Southern Railway Zone for being installed in ‘Alco' type locos that are widely used to haul passenger trains.

Connected to the electrical power supply and air brake systems in the engine, the VCD installed right front of the Loco Pilot provides cyclic alert to the driver once in 60 seconds and applies penalty brakes in the 95{+t}{+h}second if the pre-defined warnings are ignored by the Loco Pilot, railway officials here told The Hindu .

Railway officials say a loco pilot carries out any one of the operations such as pressing the horn button; application of formation brake; increasing or decreasing the level of dynamic brake; changing the notch position and throttle; operation of sanding valves and pressing the VCD reset switch while on journey.

Explaining the functioning of the VCD, railway officials say the LED lamp in the safety device would start blinking after 60 seconds if the driver remains idle without performing any of the above operations.

The LED lamp would keep blinking for 17 seconds to alert the driver.

If the Loco Pilot fails to perform any of these operations or acknowledge the VCD warning, the device would then give a buzzer sound for the next 17 seconds to caution the driver.

If the warnings are still ignored, the VCD will apply penalty brakes.

The DMR (Dead Man Relay) valve is de-energised to reduce the engine speed to idle and the governor cuts off fuel supply leading to the stoppage of the entire formation.

The penalty brakes can be released only after 34 seconds of time and the throttle handle should be brought to idle, says a senior railway official. The VCD automatically resets the alerting cycle when the pre-defined locomotive operations are on or when the reset switch of the device is pressed, the official added.

The very objective of installing the VCD is to keep the Loco Pilots vigilant throughout the journey; prevent accidents and enhance rail safety thereby, say officials.

More In: TAMIL NADU | NATIONAL