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18th June 2024 (10 Topics)

Kavach Anti-Collision System

Context

A recent tragic incident in West Bengal highlighted the urgency of enhancing railway safety in India. A collision between a goods train and the Kanchanjunga Express resulted in 15 deaths and over 60 injuries, prompting renewed focus on safety measures like the Kavach anti-collision system.

Increasing Accidents:

  • India's vast railway network, spanning over 100,000 km, faces significant challenges despite efforts to expand and upgrade.
  • Challenges for India:
    • The railway system, vital for transporting 25 million daily passengers, operates on mixed tracks where passenger and goods trains share space.
    • Over-utilization leads to reduced maintenance windows, increasing risks like signal malfunctions and accidents.

Reasons Behind Rail Accidents in India

  • Derailments: Occur when train carriages derail due to track defects, mechanical failures, or human error.
  • Collisions: Involve two or more trains colliding due to signalling errors, miscommunication, or operational failures.
  • Explosions/Fires: Result from incidents such as electrical faults, arson, or gas leaks on trains or at railway stations.
  • People Falling from Trains/Colliding with People on Tracks: Include accidents where individuals fall from moving trains or are hit while crossing or walking along railway tracks.
  • Other Causes: Encompass accidents not falling into the above categories, often due to unforeseen events like bridge collapses, landslides, or natural disasters. This category also includes accidents with unknown causes.

Top Technologies Ensuring Safety of Indian Railways

  • LHB Coaches: Introduced in 1999, LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) coaches replace older ICF coaches. They feature anti-telescopic designs that prevent secondary accidents in case of a collision. LHB coaches are safer and can operate at speeds exceeding 160 kmph.
  • Block Proving Axle Counter (BPAC): BPAC is a train detection system that ensures only one train occupies a track section at a time. It uses sensors at axles to accurately detect train presence and direction, crucial for safe railway signaling.
  • Auxiliary Warning System (AWS): AWS, or Automatic Train Protection, monitors train speeds according to signal indications. It restricts speeds to ensure safety: 15 kmph for red signals, 38 kmph for yellow, and up to 70 kmph for green or double yellow signals.
  • Self-Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT): SPURT cars use ultrasonic technology to detect internal rail flaws, conducting real-time testing twice yearly on busy routes like New Delhi – Howrah and New Delhi – Mumbai Central. This technology enhances track maintenance efficiency, covering up to 80-120 km of track per day.
What is Kavach Anti-Collision System?
  • Developed by: Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO)
  • The Kavach automatic train protection (ATP) system is India's indigenous automatic train protection system.
  • It is a technology with Safety Integrity Level 4 (SIL-4) certification. 
  • It aims to prevent collisions through features such as automatic brake application during emergencies, real-time communication, and warning systems for foggy conditions.
  • Key Features of Kavach:
    • Uses RFID and radio frequency technologies along tracks and in locomotives.
    • Alerts operators to Signal Passed at Danger (SPAD) situations and potential collisions.
    • Enhances safety with direct locomotive-to-locomotive communication and automated responses to critical situations.
  • Implementation Status: As of early 2024, Kavach covers 1,465 route kilometres and 139 locomotives, mainly in the South Central Railway network. Plans include expanding coverage on major corridors like Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah, spanning approximately 3,000 route kilometres.
  • Other Safety Initiatives:
    • India's rail modernization efforts also focus on upgrading signaling systems and enhancing safety measures nationwide.
    • Significant investments are directed towards improving infrastructure and operational efficiency to mitigate accidents and ensure passenger safety.

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