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7th March 2022 (6 Topics)

Kavach, the Indian technology that can prevent two trains from colliding

Context

Recently, the Indian Railways tested 'Kavach'-Automatic Train Protection System by making two trains move towards each other at full speed.

About

About Kavach – The Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS):

  • It is India’s very own automatic protection system in development since 2012, under the name Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), which got rechristened to Kavach or “armour”.
  • It is a set of electronic devices and Radio Frequency Identification devices installed in locomotives, in the signalling system as well the tracks.
  • The system talk to each other using ultra high radio frequencies to control the brakes of trains and also alert drivers, all based on the logic programmed into them.
  • One of its features is that by continuously refreshing the movement information of a train, it is able to send out triggers when a loco pilot jumps signal, called Signal Passed at Danger (SPAD).
  • SPAD is a grave offence in railway operations with respect to safety, and the key to accidents like collision.
  • The devices also continuously relay the signals ahead to the locomotive, making it useful for loco pilots in low visibility, especially during dense fog.
  • TCAS or Kavach includes the key elements from already existing, and tried and tested systems like the European Train Protection and Warning System, and the indigenous Anti Collison Device.
  • It will also carry features of the high-tech European Train Control System Level-2 in future.
  • The current form of Kavach adheres to the highest level of safety and reliability standard called Safety Integrity Level 4.

What India envisions?

  • In the new avatar, India wants to position Kavach as an exportable system, a cheaper alternative to the European systems in vogue across the world.
  • While now Kavach uses Ultra High Frequency, work is on to make it compatible with 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology and make the product for global markets.
    • Work is on to make the system such that it can be compatible with other already installed systems globally.
    • The Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in Lucknow along with private vendors are developing the system.
  • India wants more private players to take up the development and subseauent production.
  • Once rolled out, it may be world’s cheapest Automatic Train Protection System with the cost of rollout pegged at around Rs 30 lakh to 50 lakh per kilometer, a fourth of the cost of equivalent systems globally.
  • In the next phase, the Kavach system will also be able to recalibrate as per temporary speed restrictions en route, something the system does not yet have.

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