In March 2022, the railway ministry conducted trials of a train collision avoidance system known as Kavach. The collision avoidance system will cause the train to come to a halt automatically upon detecting any obstacle on the track. This has been done to allow for safer travel by rail.
The project aims to install Kavach across 2,000 rail-route networks in 2022-23. In subsequent years the ministry aims to step up the number to over 4,000-5,000 rail route networks. At present, the collision avoidance system has been deployed on around 65 trains running under the South Central Railway and upwards of 1,098 after successful trial runs.
Kavach - What Is It?
In 2012, the railways had begun to develop their own automatic protection system under the name Train Collision Avoidance System. The anti-collision system was subsequently renamed Kavach which means “armour”.
Kavach was developed under India Railways by The Research Design and Standards Organisation (RSDO) in collaboration with Kernex Microsystems, HBL Power Systems Ltd, and Medha Servo Drives PVT Ltd. Since 2016, the railways have been regularly testing out Kavach on passenger trains.
As part of the new system, radio frequency devices are installed on the engines of trains, railway tracks, and signaling systems on railway tracks. The devices send signals continuously on a real-time basis to indicate that there are no obstacles on the track on which the train is operating.
Signals are also relayed ahead continuously by the devices to the locomotives. This enables loco pilots to operate the locomotives safely when visibility is low, especially during dense fog.
Currently, Kavach makes use of ultra-high frequency radio waves. However, Indian Railways is working to develop the product for international markets while also making it compatible with 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE).
Some other essential features of Kavach include:
- A network monitor system for tracking train movements through centralized live monitoring.
- The prevention of overspeeding through the use of automatic braking.
- For stalling any chance of collision between two self-propelled trains/locomotives rigged with a functional Kavach.
- Preventing trains from signal passing at danger.
- Auto whistling when nearing level crossing gates.
- SOS messages in case of emergencies.
Differences between Kavach and Indian Railways Older Anti-Collision System
Since 2002, Indian Railways has been using an anti-collision device known as Raksha Kavach which was developed by Konkan Railways. Rajaram Bojji, the former head of Konkan Railways invented the ACD system.
While the older system is still being utilised at the moment by most trains operated by Indian Railways, the new system will be implemented on all trains over the next five years.
Everything ranging from signalling systems, and railways stations to even types of trains will be covered by the new Kavach system. The older ACD worked on individual locomotives and trains according to senior RDSO officials.
The new system sends signals to trains more accurately. It is also faster because it functions on a real-time basis while effectively implementing safety measures.
Functioning Mechanism of the Automatic Train Control
The system enables devices installed on railway tracks to detect obstacles that are up to 10 kilometres ahead. The devices will then send the signals to the devices installed on the trains to decelerate to up to 30 km/hr. This will enable the driver to easily bring the train to a halt.
Additionally, pressure sensors will be fitted on railway tracks and they will be able to detect weights of more than 500 kg. The sensors will then send signals to the engine of a train to apply brakes automatically. The trains will also automatically decrease speed upon noticing any manual error.
The signals sent from the devices on the train track to the train function on unique radio frequencies. Signals are transmitted between the two devices directly instead of any central server.
The Cost of the New Anti-Collision System
In the first phase which began in 2022 and is currently underway, the new anti-collision system is set to be installed across 2000 rail route networks. Later, it will be implemented on 300 km of the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai corridors. The systems and tracks on these corridors are being upgraded to accommodate a top speed of 160 km/hr.
Subsequently, the Indian Railways plans to issue tenders for the deployment of Kavach across the entire 68,446 km it operates.
The required expenditure for project Kavach is approximately INR 30-40 Lakh per square kilometre. Private players will be given a 2-3 year timeframe to implement the system across the various pockets that will be tendered out.
Latest News and Estimated Date of Completion
The new Vande Bharat Express plying between Mumbai in Maharashtra and Gandhinagar in Gujarat which was recently inaugurated by PM Modi marked the expansion of new-age high-speed train services.
The already state-of-the-art express train has been equipped with Kavach. This has been implemented towards the intensification of measures in safety implemented by Indian Railways.
At present, Indian Railways expect to shift entirely to the new anti-collision system and install it on all train tracks by 2028.