(GIST OF SCIENCE REPORTER) Innovations in Railways
Innovations in Railways
- Today the railway ecosystem is one of the best examples of the twin mantras of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Make for the world’. Where the system once struggled to meet domestic goals, it is now a respected source of transportation solutions for many nations. And the key to this transformation has been a slate of technologies — contemporary as well as futuristic — that today define Indian Railways.
Key highlights regarding innovations:
Collision avoidance with Kavach:
- Within 90 days, its engineers came up with an anti-collision device, harnessing wireless communication and the Global Positioning System (GPS) that has come to be known as Kavach (Armour).
- When mounted on two trains, it enables them to accurately assess each other’s course and in case they are on a collision course, it triggers an automatic brake, overriding the driver.
- Since 2016, the Research, Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) of Indian Railways has refined the Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) using more contemporary technology like UHF radio and 4G/5G and is working with private vendors to manufacture Kavach for fitting on more trains.
Modernising Signalling systems:
- The progressive electrification of the rail system is going hand in hand with the modernisation of the signalling system. India has adopted an emerging standard — the European Train Control System (ETCS) — which compares the train’s speed with the speed authorised by the signalling system and calculates the brake point.
- It requires continuous communication using a radio channel and obviates the need for the old track-side signals. Major railway systems in France, Germany and China have adopted ETCS.
Real-Time Train Tracking:
- A knowledge of the precise coordinates of every active train in a rail system is a key parameter for ensuring safety. It is also useful information that can be shared with passengers.
- A Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) using GPS-based devices and a satellite communication hub has been created for the Railways by the Indian Space Research Organisation.
- GPS feeds from some 6000 locomotives are fed into a central control office for automatic charting and information flow to passengers. Work is ongoing to equip another 6000 locos with the GPS device.
Black Box for locomotive engines:
Aircraft are fitted with a Black Box which stores vital flight data — why not in trains?
- Indian Railways have decided to install black boxes in the engines of trains which among other things will include a voice and video recorder.
- The system will involve the installation of six Internet Protocol (IP)-based cameras, a network video recorder and a hard disk inside the black box for local recording.
- The camera images can be remotely monitored in real time, while data is stored for 90 days. A start was made in 2022 to equip engines in the Western Central Railway. This will be extended to other divisions.
Monitoring Rolling Stock:
- Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock (OMRS) and Wheel Impact Load Detector (WILD) are two technology enhancements that the Railways have undertaken in 2022 to help in preventive maintenance of rolling stock — railway jargon for the engine, wagons and bogies that make up the train.
- To achieve this, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are being fitted on rolling stock. Also under development are contactless Machine Vision Inspection Systems (MVIS) to check on the condition of wheels and undercarriage.
Monitoring rail conditions:
- For decades, a physical inspection of the rail tracks was the main method to check their condition. Now ultrasonic crack detection systems and acoustic sensing systems as well as Automatic Train Examination Systems (ATES) are being developed to automate the process.
Coach enhancements and passenger comfort:
- Continuous improvements in coach design at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Perambur near Chennai and the Modern Coach Factory (MCF) in Rae Bareli, have produced a new generation of lighter, more comfortable passenger coaches. MCF is rolling out aluminium coaches, with technology transfer from a South Korea company, Dawonsys.
National Quantum Mission — A Boost to India’s Quantum Endeavours
- The recent approval of the National Quantum Mission (NQM) by the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, is a significant step towards positioning India as a leading player in the field of quantum technologies.
- With an allocation of Rs 6000 crore from 2023-24 to 2030-31, the mission aims to develop cutting-edge technologies in quantum communication, computing, and secure systems, which have the potential to revolutionise industries across the board. This could further nurture and scale up scientific and industrial R&D creating a vibrant & innovative ecosystem in Quantum Technology, eventually propelling economic growth.
- Research in the Quantum field holds potential for the development of Quantum Computers, Quantum Communication, Quantum Key Distribution, Cryptography and Cryptanalysis. Quantum computing also has the potential to accelerate drug discovery, nuclear and space research, numerical weather predictions, and aerospace engineering.
Courtesy: Science Reporter