Delay in Software for CBTC by Mitsubishi Electric-BEML Consortia leads to blame games in Kolkata Sector-V Metro launch

KOLKATA: Who is to blame for the delay in starting services of the East-West Metro Corridor between Salt Lake Sector-V and Salt Lake Stadium in October? While Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (KMRCL) blamed the software-supplying company for the delay, reliable sources in BEML Ltd — the firm supplying rakes for the corridor — claimed otherwise. According to a BEML source, the KMRCL and its signaling contractor are to blame for the schedule going haywire.

“There was a delay in deciding on the type of signaling system to be adopted. It was originally planned that trains would run using the “distance to go” (DTG) system. Later, this was changed to the “computer based train control” (CBTC) system. This was finalized in mid-2017. However, after several rounds of meetings with KMRCL’s signaling contractor, the technical issues could be sorted out only very recently,” the source added.

The delay in creation of the software is also due to delay in supply of vital inputs by KMRCL’s signaling contractor to BEML and Mitsubishi Electric FA. On May 24 this year, the final decision on data transfer rate was changed by the signaling contractor. “These inputs are prerequisites for developing an effective software. The delay occurred as the signaling contractor withheld vital information and also kept on making amendments. BEML Ltd is not to be blamed,” another source said.

The DTG signaling system, though advanced, allows a two-and-ahalf-minute gap between two trains. This is the system in use in Delhi. The CBTC system, in place at Lucknow and Kochi, allows trains to run at less than 90-second intervals. There are several other advantages. At a later stage, this system would enable trains to run without drivers. Such trains would run between stations and stop at designated platforms without human intervention. At the same time, continuous signals would be sent to the control room, permitting a manual override during emergencies.

Now that Mitsubishi has all inputs, it is likely to deliver the software by the end of August after which stringent trials will be required for the next 3-4 months. It now remains to be seen whether KMRCL waits till March, 2019 to launch Phase-I services between Salt Lake Sector-V and Phoolbagan or start a truncated run till Salt Lake Stadium in December-January.