Howrah-Chennai line has no Kavach system yet

Indian Railway has given first priority to High Density Routes and on New-Delhi-Mumbai and New Delhi-Howrah sections for 160 kmph with Automatic Block Signaling and Centralised Traffic Control

Updated - June 04, 2023 02:10 pm IST

Published - June 03, 2023 10:03 pm IST - HYDERABAD

File photo of a loco pilot testing the functioning of Kavach in South Central Railway.

File photo of a loco pilot testing the functioning of Kavach in South Central Railway. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Kavach — the state-of-the-art indigenously developed automatic train protection system (ATPS) project — has not been implemented yet on the Howrah-Chennai line passing through at least four railway zones, although South Central Railway (SCR) has become pioneer in implementation of the much needed system over the last two years.

Indian Railway has given first priority to high density routes (HDR) and on New-Delhi-Mumbai and New Delhi-Howrah sections for 160 kmph with automatic block signaling and centralised traffic control. The reasoning is that since such sections have higher chances of human errors on part of drivers resulting in accidents as trains run closer to each other. Strangely, the Howrah-Visakhapatnam-Vijayawada-Chennai line has not been prioritised for the project.

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But, Kavach system has been deployed over 1465 kms in SCR limits with 77 numbers of locomotives and 135 stations by March this year. The SCR has covered Manmad-Mudkhed-Nizamabad-Sitafalmandi-Kurnool-Guntakal section; Parbhani-Bidar-Vikarabad-Wadi and Wadi-Sanatnagar sections.

Developed by RDSO

Kavach is an indigenous ATP system developed by Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in collaboration with Indian industry and trials facilitated by the South Central Railway. It is a state-of-the-art electronic system of Safety Integrity Level-4 standards.

Kavach is meant to provide protection by preventing trains to pass the signal at danger (red) and avoid collision. It activates the train braking system automatically if the driver fails to control the train as per the speed restrictions. In addition, it prevents collision between two locomotives equipped with functional Kavach systems. Three Hyderabad-based companies had been empanelled to manufacture Kavach equipment.

Minister tests Kavach

Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had peronsally inspected the trial of Kavach working system between Gullaguda-Chitgidda railway stations on Lingampally-Vikarabad sections of Secunderabad division of SCR last March.

Secunderabad-based Indian Railways Institute of Signal Engineering & Telecommunications (IRISET) hosts the ‘Centre of Excellence’ for Kavach. IRISET has been mandated by the Railway Board to train the inservice railway staff on Kavach. The Institute’s Kavach lab carries out round the year training programmes.

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In fact, beginning next week, IRISET has lined up one week on-campus courses on Kavach for junior engineers and senior section engineers (Design) of all Zones on the aspects of aspects of survey, estimation, design, testing and commissioning of Kavach-Automatic Train Protection System. The courses will continue till December this year.

Training at IRISET

A senior official said it is not only the railway technical staff who are undergoing training but also engineers from private companies have enrolled for training programmes. “Private entities are evincing interest and sponsoring their engineers to undergo training on Kavach at IRISET,” a senior SCR official said.

The official also referred to IRISET entering into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with AICTE and a couple of private engineering colleges in and around Hyderabad. “The faculty of these colleges have attended refresher courses at IRISET and the same colleges offer B.Tech course in Railway Signal Engineering.”

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