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Indian Railways poised for leap in tech upgrade

Entire network of 65,000 km to be fitted with ‘KAVACH’, the indigenously developed Train Collision Avoidance System

Indian Railways is poised for a giant leap in technology, especially in the signalling and telecommunication front with 15,000 km being converted into automatic signalling and 37,000 km to be fitted with ‘KAVACH’, the indigenously developed Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and soon the entire network of 65,000 km will be get this facility, informed Railway Board Additional Member Rahul Agarwal on Wednesday.

Along with this, most of the lines are being shifted onto the modern Central Traffic Control (CTC) management system, so the expectation from the S&T engineering wing and consequently, the role and responsibility of the Indian Railway Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunications (IRISET), here in Secunderabad, will only get enhanced, he said.

Participating in the 64th anniversary of IRISET virtually, the senior railway official said there will be a huge requirement of skilled manpower as these technologies get integrated and the institute will be playing a key role in developing capacities and competencies for the railways as well as the industry. Zonal railways should be part of the plan and the signalling industry should be involved in a wider role, observed Mr. Agarwal.

South Central Railway (SCR) General Manager Gajanan Mallya said web-based learning modules after the pandemic outbreak has helped railway personnel to do more than one course at a time with the best of faculty available. Similar training should be imparted to the field-level staff as they are the first responders during any eventuality and officers of other wings too, to help manage the assets better. “Safety is signalling” and vice versa, he said, adding that the Oxygen Trains could be run on Rajdhani Express timings during the COVID second wave due to efficient signalling systems.

IRISET Director General S.K. Goel said training modules were redesigned in virtual mode with limited physical classes to keep the programmes running with ‘flexibility management’ and ‘discipline’. Altogether, 5,800 trainees passed through 85 online and 27 offline courses with 1.33 lakh training man days thus far. Fresh recruits of 1,500 new trainees will be completing course by June and the hybrid model has helped reduce the course by half — three years to 1.5 years, he said.

Bharat Biotech chairman & managing director Krishna Ella, keynote speaker, in his online address, said neglected diseases in the developing nations has brought forth the COVID pandemic, causing deaths and economic destruction. He appreciated the unsung railway frontline staff for braving the pandemic and running services single-handed unlike the airlines which has many organisations.

He urged the railways to adapt to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, use virtual platforms, 3-D simulations by collaborating with startups for the technology upgrade and integration. Mr. Mallya opened a new lab on TCAS – Kavach, Route Setting Type Interlocking Lab and new digital classrooms on the occasion. Member-Infrastructure Sanjeev Mittal, Additional Member-Telecom Aruna Singh, National Academy of Indian Railways S.P.S. Chauhan and Addl DG P. Venkataramana also spoke. About 16 trainees got prizes for their performance with the top two being bagged by Vipul Kumar Yadav and Divya Pareek.

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