French firm Thales to provide latest safety technology to Indian Railways

French firm Thales to provide latest safety technology

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With the rolling out of Indian Railways’ “zero-accident mission”, several global players, including French firm Thales, have geared up to be part of the plan to provide latest technology for strengthening the safety of India’s rail network.

Indian Railways intends to implement Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) on a total of approximately 7,900 km of main lines across the country out of which 3,300 km has already been budgeted.

Currently, TPWS, a technology meant to prevent train accidents due to drivers’ failure, is being implemented on 68-km long rail line near Chennai on a pilot basis by Thales, a major player in rail transport market which offers effective signalling and supervision to telecommunications for mainline rail and metro system.

The pilot project is expected to be completed by the year-end.

“Indian market is very important for us. It is in our interest to be in Indian market,” said Alfred Veider, CEO of Thales in Austria.

“We are involved in Delhi Metro fare collection system as we have provided the technology support to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). We are also providing communication-based train controlling system for Hyderabad Metro which is a public-private partnership project,” Veider said.

There are 28 TPWS projects in Indian Railways which involves equipping tracksides and onboard systems with latest technology which have already been identified. The implementation of these projects are slated to be in the next five years.

Thales has developed the signalling system known as the European Train Control System (ETCS) to prevent train mishaps and Indian Railways chooses the system as the basis of TPWS to enhance safety in train operation.

As per plan, a total of approximately, 2600 ETCS on board systems shall be installed on locomotives. Currently two projects are on tender and both are in Kolkata region.

While the 128-km long line, 30 stations, 62 electric multiple unit (EMU) trains to be equipped in the Eastern Railway, another 121-km long rail line, 27 stations, 70 EMUs to be equipped with the modern signalling system as accident prevention measure.

Veider said ETCS was developed to replace all existing signalling systems in Europe , thus it offers the widest spectrum of functionalities of all available ATP systems and is suitable for all railway environment , high-speed lines, high-density commuter lines, and conventional mixed traffic of freight and passenger main lines.

The TPWS is a technology meant to prevent train accidents due to driver’s failure. If the train driver fails to observe a signal, through this technology the brake of the train is automatically activated.

The TPWS would also give information about the signal aspects and also the permissible speeds. Electronic loops are placed between 50 to 450 metres on the approach side of the stop signal. It is the distance that separates the loops which controls the speed of the train. In addition to this another pair of loops are placed at the signal which indicates danger.

Moreover, at the signal the loops are placed together which will detect speeds and immediately stop a train if it runs past a signal.

Inside the train, a TPWS panel is placed which is linked to the loops placed on the track. This is considered to be a fool proof system which would go a long way in preventing train accidents.

“It is a challenging task. We are in the Indian market for the last ten years and we hope to provide the best railway signalling system,” Veider added.

Railways aim to achieve zero level accident with the implementation of modern signalling system in the network.