By Elton Gomes
The Indian Railways will soon roll out its state-of-the-art SMART coaches, which will be manufactured at the Modern Coach Factory in Raebareli. These modern train compartments will be equipped with black boxes and coach information and diagnostics systems.
As a pilot project, Indian Railways will unveil the first smart coach at the Rae Bareli Coach Factory on May 11, 2019, which is slated to be National Technology Day. With the introduction of the new features, Indian Railways hopes to assess critical components that have been identified as major causes for derailment and delays.
An official from the Railways said that they “will introduce the long-awaited sensor-based on-board condition monitoring system (OBCMS) for timely detection of defects related to passenger coaches and also tracks on a running train,” IANS reported.
What are the features of the coaches
Railways’ new smart coaches will come equipped with black boxes and coach information and diagnostics systems. The black boxes will have a powerful multi-dimensional communication interface to provide information on coach condition along with resolving queries related to passenger information on a real-time basis.
The wheels of these smart coaches will have a vibration-based self-power harvesting sensor, which will be able to identify if the tracks are weak or not. Furthermore, the areas of coach maintenance and passenger interface will be monitored by the Central Processing Unit, known as ‘PICCU’ (Passenger Information and Coach Computing Unit). PICCU is an industrial grade computer that has been provided with GSM network.
Additionally, CCTV’s on railway stations will now have artificial intelligence capability, thereby, enhancing the security of the passengers while monitoring the behaviour of on-board railway staff. “The footage will also help in investigation into any untoward incident during the journey and identifying the culprits and in direct intervention from remote control centre,” the ministry said, as reported by IndiaTV.
The smart coach will also be provided with the emergency talkback system for communication between passengers and the guard of the train so assistance can be provided under critical situations. The new coaches will also come equipped with Wi-fi hotspot information system.
Railways to revise flexi-fare scheme and other updates
The railways will soon come up with a revised Flexi-fare scheme in September. Sources said that the ministry is planning to suspend the fare scheme temporarily as an experiment for some trains as occupancy levels have dipped to as low as 30%.
September will also see the beginning of trials for the indigenously-built and much-awaited semi-high speed ‘Train 18’. After being successfully tested, Train 18 will be inducted into the railways fleet.
Improving technology in the railways, every locomotive of the Indian Railways will now be equipped with a GPS device. This is being done in an attempt to monitor every train on mobile phones so as to know the live running status and the exact location of the train. Earlier, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said the railways will collaborate with the Indian Space Research Organisation to develop a Real-Time Train Information System.
Improvement comes at a cost
Although the Indian Railways has been taking steps towards bettering its services, it had to cancel around 30 trains in the months of June and July. Although the cancellation was temporary, it should be noted the railways imposed a 42-day railway block on the Lucknow Division in order to build washable apron on platform number eight at the Varanasi Railway Station. The railways said that the move was an attempt at improving its infrastructure.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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