East Coast Railway comes up with lightning-proof signals

BHUBANESWAR: The East Coast Railway (ECoR) has developed a new technology, said to be first of its kind, to protect railway signals from lightning. Initially, this technology was introduced at 94 locations in various railway stations in coastal Odisha.

The new technology called ‘polymer positive temperature coefficient’ will not require human intervention in case the fuse of the signal lights gets defunct because of lightning. It can be self-restored.

The ECoR railway had been facing a lot of difficulties to repair the signals, which got defunct after lightning struck. Mostly, the signals near the 120 railways stations in coastal regions are prone to lightning. “Compared to other zones of Indian Railways, east coast mostly grapples with lightning problems every rainy season. We had to devise new ways to get rid of frequent manual repair works of the signals,” said chief signal and telecom engineer S H Safdar.

He said in case of lightning, the fuse of the circuit that supplies current to the signals stops working. In order to resume train services, the railway’s technical team then has to go to the signal, which is located roughly at 2 km distance, with a new fuse. “The conventional way of re-installing the fuse was time consuming. The trains used to remain stranded till the fuse is repaired,” said Safdar.

In case of the new technology, because of the use of carbon-based chemical, the temperature of the fuse automatically goes off when lightning strikes. It is restored when lightning stops. “If the lightning lasts for long time, the temperature of the fuse remains suspended, causing no damage to it,” he said.

The ECoR has also started laying optic fibre cables for better communication between stations in remote locations. It has been commissioned between Kaklur and Dantewada station at Koraput section.

Recently, the ECoR planned to install mechanized laundry replacing the manual washing of bed rolls meant for passengers in air conditioned coaches. The machine can wash 20, 000 bed rolls a day. Also, in a bid to reduce the burden of manual work, the East Coast Railway (ECoR) overhauled its information technology (IT) system.

While it has already introduced court case information system (CCIS), drivers’ unsatisfactory management system (DRUMS) and integrated payroll and accounting system ( IPAS), a host of other software-driven programmes are in pipeline, said ECoR sources.