Western Railway installs GPS system in train to prevent fire in parcel vans

MUMBAI: For the first time on Indian Railways, a global positing system-based automatic lighting system has been installed in the parcel compartment of a train to prevent instances of accidental fire due to short-circuit.

Western Railway has installed the system in the August Kranti Rajdhani Express. There are plans to equip other trains with the system in which lights in the parcel van switch off automatically on the basis of the train’s speed. This eliminates the possibility of short-circuit, which is one among the many causes of fire in parcel van. In the newly installed system, the lights will get switched off as soon as the train gains a speed of 20 kmph.

There have been instances in the past when the cause of the fire has originated from the parcel van. In some cases, short-circuit occurs if the staff forget to switch off lights in the parcel van. WR’s chief public relations office Sharat Chandrayan said, “The lights are required only when the train has stopped at a station to facilitate loading and unloading. A GPS-based system has been developed which switches off lights in the parcel van once the train starts running.”

The GPS device (installed in generator coach) will continuously monitor the location. Once the train starts running, the change in GPS co-ordinates shall be calibrated to ascertain train speed. Chandrayan said, “Once the train speed catches the speed of more than 20 kmph, GPS device gets activated and operate interlock in the parcel van’s light circuit. It ensures automatic switching OFF luggage lights once train starts running.”

Costing Rs 11,500, the system has been indigenously developed and initial trials were conducted on bike to check operation of GPS device.

There is a data logger to record the switch off of lights by GPS device.

It also has LED indication GPS to convey about availability of GPS signals respectively. The safety interlock shall actuate luggage lights if GPS signals are not available for a certain time period.

Past incidents

Oct 2012: Panic spread among people at Guwahati railway station after one of the four parcel coaches of the Northeast Express caught fire at a maintenance depot.

May 2012: Parcel van of the Chennai-Jammu Andaman Express caught at Godhni station near Nagpur.

March, 2012: The parcel van of a goods train caught fire near Sankrail station of South Eastern Railway but no casualty was reported.