Railways use Drone Cameras to monitor Safety of Railway Tracks and Stations

Drones have been deployed for patrolling and surveillance in remote and vulnerable areas. Korean experts suggest measures to improve rail safety

BANGALORE: In the light of an attempt made by an insurgent group to place concrete slabs on the railway track between Thoppur and Karuvalli in the Dharmapuri section on December 22, 2016, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has begun conducting surveillance using a drone camera.

Speaking to RailNews, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Railways, Railway Protection Force, Hubballi, D B Kasar said the development was in view of the discovery of slabs deliberately placed on the tracks last month to derail Chalukya Express. “This is being done for the first time in Indian Railways. After that incident, we planned on extra surveillance. We introduced a drone camera on December 25 so that security is tightened before Republic Day,” he said.

Kasar said the drone would record events around the area 24×7 and the images were being monitored by staff in a control room. “The camera can soar up to a height of 25 metres and can keep track up to a distance of 5 km,” he said.

“We have begun it along this stretch on a trial basis. Based on the impact it has, RPF will gradually extend it to other areas,” the DIG added.

Meanwhile, an official release from the South Western Railway said, “Information has been received from sources regarding the activities of terrorists, Maoists and other insurgent groups.”  Special teams have been formed for guarding and patrolling of tracks in vulnerable sections or sabotage-prone areas, the release added. Movement of passengers at Bengaluru, Yeshwantpur and Mysuru railway stations were monitored through CCTV, the release said. In addition, the movement of passengers on platforms, reservation office, and circulating areas in Bengaluru, Yeshwantpur and Mysuru railway stations are being monitored through CCTV surveillance systems round the clock, said the release.

Besides, sniffer dogs have been deployed for checking trains, coaches, platforms, yards, tracks, culverts, and bridges in coordination with the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the local police. Also, RPF officers are supervising the special security arrangements and conducting surprise checks in Bengaluru, Hubballi and Mysuru, and passengers in trains and platforms are being videographed randomly at major railway stations. The strength of train-escorting staff has been increased in certain important routes. Liaison with the railway police and local police has been established for providing security arrangements. The SWR release said track patrol and awareness campaigns have been conducted in various places across South Western Railway.

ATS probes terror angle in Diva rail sabotage

After a motorman of Madgaon-Dadar Jan Shatabdi Express spotted a seven-metre-long piece of railway track placed diagonally over a railway track and stopped the train near Diva station on Tuesday night, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), while suspecting involvement of a terror outfit, have launched an investigation into the incident. The Government Railway Police (GRP) too is probing the matter.

While the GRP has been questioning people in the case, the ATS has started its own parallel investigation to find if it was planned by any terrorist outfit or fringe elements associated with terrorist organisations.

A major disaster was averted around 10.40pm on January 24, two days before Republic Day due to the alertness of the motorman of the train, which was running on the CST-Kalyan fast line carrying around 700 passengers. He spotted the piece about few metres before Diva railway station and immediately alerted to the railway control authorities.

Anti-terrorism agencies have been roped in to probe the alleged role of ISI or any other terrorist organisation in the recent derailments that occurred in North India. Investigators are probing the terror angle particularly because they feel that it cannot be the handiwork of one person, as it would take more than one person to lift the 7-metre railway track that weighed 300kg. They are also looking into the careless attitude of railway authorities who failed to monitor the railway tracks properly despite it being a busy route. “The involvement of an organised group with an intention to execute a major disaster cannot be ruled out,” said an officer.

Deputy commissioner of police Samadhan Pawar (Central Railway) said, “We have been investigating the case from all angels including sabotage and few people have been picked up for questioning who took to take the same route every day that passed through the spot where the metal piece was found.”

Korean rail experts have suggested for a double check system and restricted train speed in case of track circuit failure to ensure safety on the tracks

Korean rail experts have suggested for a double check system and restricted train speed in case of track circuit failure to ensure safety on the tracks.

After a series of mishaps, the Railway Ministry had invited overseas railways, including Korea and Japan, to visit the Indian Railways and suggest measures for safety enhancement.

A Korean delegation comprising of track, signal and safety experts visited India from January 15 to 24 to review the operation and maintenance practices of track and signal system and also rolling stock to suggest improvements, an official said.

Preliminary discussions were held between the delegation and the Railway officials.

The Korean experts visited Rura accident site near Kanpur, where 15 coaches of Sealdah-Ajmer Superfast Express was derailed last month, leaving two dead and 44 persons injured.

The experts also visited a few track sites, control room and relay room in Delhi Division, he said.

After comparing the maintenance practices and operations on Indian Railways, Korean Railways had given a presentation suggesting some improvements in track maintenance practices, signalling system and controlling of overloading in wagons.

They emphasised the need for dedicated track maintenance blocks of minimum three hours to keep the assets in safe condition as is being done in Korea, the official said.

The experts also had detailed discussions with concerned officers of the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) at Lucknow, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

According to the official, the Korean experts stated that in case of failure of track circuiting, principle of safety first should be followed, then reason of failure of track circuiting are found out and the first train is passed on with a restricted speed of 25 kmph.

A track circuit is a simple electrical device used to detect the absence of a train on rail tracks. It is then used to inform signallers and control relevant signals.

The Korean team is expected to submit their reports in 15 days.