The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the allotment of 5Mhz spectrum in the premium 700 MHz band to the railways for captive use in areas of public safety and security services.
With this spectrum, the railways will introduce LTE-based Mobile Train Radio Communication (MTRC) on its routes. This will help prevent train accidents and reduce delays by enabling real-time interaction between the Loco Pilot, Station Master and the Control Centre. The project, targeted to be completed in five years, is estimated to cost over ₹ 25,000 crore.
“The purpose of the LTE for Indian Railways is to provide secure and reliable voice, video and data communication services for operational, safety and security applications. It will be used for modern signalling and train protection systems and ensure seamless communication between loco pilots and guards,” an official statement said.
Internet of Things
This will also enable the railways to undertake Internet of Things (IoT) based remote asset monitoring, particularly of coaches, wagons and locos, and monitor live video feed of CCTV cameras in the coaches to ensure efficient, safer and faster train operations.
The spectrum charges will be levied based on formula as prescribed by Department of Telecommunications for Royalty Charges and License Fee for captive use as recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), it stated.
In 2019, the TRAI recommended the allotment of spectrum to the railways, albeit only for captive use and not to offer any commercial services such as onboard WiFi.
The railways on Wednesday also approved the indigenously developed Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). “It brings a strategic shift in Railways’ operations and maintenance regime. It will help in improving the safety and increasing the line capacity to accommodate more trains using the existing infrastructure. The modern rail network will result in reduced transportation cost and higher efficiency,” the railways said.