The Western Railway (WR) authority has installed devices similar to digital axle counters (DAC) at five locations on either side of Mahim station. According to railway officials, the move is to reduce the distance between counters to ensure safer train movement on the stretch. The enhanced devices have been installed between DACs and signal poles, which are usually 13 metres apart.
The DACs and the enhanced device keeps track of the number of axles passing overhead and relays the information via circuits in the tracks. When the first and last axle has passed over the counters, the circuit is completed and the signal lights change colour, enabling train drivers on the stretch to alter speed accordingly.
The move however has raised questions whether the stretch has a potential ‘unsafe window’ and if it could possibly be a collision zone.
Late on June 16, a Churchgate-bound local was changing from a slow line to a fast line while entering Andheri station when it collided with a Virar-bound fast train that was leaving the same station. According to the railway officials, someone had pulled the chain while the train was changing tracks, resulting in the collision. The internal report indicated an ‘unsafe window’ (lacuna in the existing system) as a possible cause.
The additional devices installed on the Mahim stretch will double check a train’s position thereby eradicating the possibility of collisions.
Once trains, both long distance and suburban, enter the stretch between the signal and the device, the route will not change and neither will the signal. “We are trying to reduce the gap between the signals and axle counters, which is very important for train movement. We have identified five locations at Mahim, which are equally complicated as the safety system at Andheri,” said a WR official on condition of anonymity.
There are over 30 signals at Mahim and local trains ply on the slow and fast lines of the Western line and Harbour line towards CST.
“There is no unsafe window as pointed out by the preliminary report. We are taking precautions and will install the device at other locations as well after some study,” said Mahesh Kumar, general manager, WR.
Plans are on to improve communications between the control room and motormen in future to further enhance safety on the tracks.