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Anti-crash gadgets rust

New Delhi, Jan. 4: The delay by the Union railway ministry in installing anti-collision devices developed indigenously by the Konkan Railway Corporation has cost 18 more lives.

Prima facie, yesterday’s Secunderabad-Manmad Express mishap at Ghatnandur station in Maharashtra has been attributed to human failure. It has been more than a year since the device was approved and accepted in principle by the railway ministry, but till date no orders have been placed with the corporation.

The Konkan Railway has already completed a pilot project between Jalandhar and Amritsar stations and is fully prepared to provide the equipment to the railways. But the corporation cannot supply the equipment till the Railway Board gives the clearance for its procurement and installation.

“We are ready with the product. It has been fully tested and can be installed between the 25,000 railway stations across the country. On a single shift, we can roll out 500 units a month and we have the capacity to work in three shifts. But we are waiting for orders from the Railway Board,” said B. Rajaram, managing director, Kon-kan Railway Corporation Ltd.

A senior Railway Board official explained: “We do have the necessary funds but will have to secure it through proper budget and the railway safety fund. It will be undertaken soon; maybe, we will place orders in the next few months.”

The anti-collision devices are safety gadgets designed to automatically prevent trains from colliding without human inputs and has a market potential of Rs 1,800 crore from India.

“We (Konkan Railways) offer a comprehensive information technology support (to the devices). This can reduce the operating costs of the railways by 20 to 30 per cent and offer a business potential for the Konkan Railway of about Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 crore in India and abroad,” said Rajaram.

“The devices have been built on a chip from Taiwan with a local patented software protecting it from any kind of interference that may hamper its performance,” he added.

While signals provided at the stations ensure safety in train operations, the safety devices will take care of any failure on the part of the driver.

In mid-sections, where neither the protection of signals nor any specific guidance is available to the driver, the anti-collision device renders the locomotive intelligent and extends its capability to detect any collision-like situation within a distance of 3 km that the driver is unaware of.

Accidents caused by collisions between two approaching trains or between a derailed train and one approaching on the adjacent track can, therefore, be prevented.

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