Kochi Metro rallies to become India’s first CBTC based Metro Rail system by March

It will enable pilot-less train operations in Kochi Metro in the long run!

KOCHI: The installation of signalling and telecommunication (S&T) equipment to enable India’s first communication-based train control (CBTC) system is in the last lap on the Kochi metro’s 13-km Aluva-Palarivattom corridor, which is expected to be commissioned in April.

The signal system will be in place in another 10 days, while the communication equipment is being fine-tuned to be made operational by early March. Signals have a limited role to play in CBTC since the precise position of trains is relayed to the metro’s operation control centre (OCC) at Muttom by ‘beacons’ along the corridor. The computerised OCC monitors and controls all train movements, DMRC sources said.

Frequency, trials

Once commissioned, trains will be operated every 10 minutes. Low-speed trials of a train laden with sand bags are over. Moreover, multiple signal trials were conducted, followed by trial of coaches. The procedure will continue at higher speeds in the coming weeks till the design speed of 80 kmph is attained.

The second train too will join in by the end of this month. The third and fourth trains will subsequently join them for integrated trials slated for early March. Integrated trials are crucial to the testing of the CBTC system since its foolproof operation has a direct bearing on safe running of trains.

Elaborating on the system, KMRL sources said it is a moving block train control system that continuously monitors the position of each train and trackside elements like points, emergency stop plungers, and switches. It ensures that trains adhere to speed restrictions and come to a halt at designated stops.

In January, the metro agencies had conducted evacuation tests, wherein a train jampacked with around 1,000 people was evacuated within the specified time limit.

Pilotless Trains

On the commencement of unmanned train operations (UTO or pilotless trips), KMRL sources said the communication-based train control (CBTC) system would enable them. “We can migrate to UTO with minor modification of trains, depending on traffic and other requirements. Each train will have a pilot during the initial period,” they added.