Cab Signalling technology can help improve Mumbai Suburban Rail Network’s Operational and Safety performance

Mumbai: Experts say the railways should bring in technology to eliminate human error. Sunday’s incident may be yet another illustration of the impact of human error on passenger safety, something the railways has been grappling with for years. A senior railway official said, “Though the suburban train system is largely safe, it is time to adopt safety features like cab signalling technology, which is less prone to failure and will also aid in improving rain frequency.” He said technology exists to monitor train speed, measure braking distance and apply brakes automatically. But it is prohibitively expensive and the railways may not have adequate funds to buy it.

Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation and Central Railway want to introduce a digital communication-based control system on the Harbour line. It is expected to cost Rs 1,700 crore for the 49km up and down slow corridors. The technology will be much more expensive if implemented on WR or CR’s Main line, which have longer and wider networks on their slow and fast corridors.

The system gives real-time information on optimal train speed based on location, and suggests braking distance. This also allows trains to move close behind each other, thus improving frequency.

As of now, the railways has installed an automatic warning system (AWS) that brings a train to halt if the motorman jumps the red signal. AWS remains inactive if the signal is not red. “WR witnesses several cases of platform jumping. The cab signalling technology is necessary to prevent that,” said an official.

Earlier, a safety review committee under former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar had recommended that a railway safety authority be set up and advanced technology be used to reduce train accidents.