Railways may install GPS systems

Almost five days after the breakdown of services on Central Railway (CR), the Indian Railways (IR) have accepted that they had bungled during the Thane yard remodelling, testing on DC-AC conversion and other work that was carried out since December 29, 2012, for a period of five days. Now, to rectify their mistakes, the Railways are looking at either devising a global positioning system (GPS) or installing a chip that would allow people to get the exact position of a train on the Internet.

It is proposed that trains with GPS will help commuters check the status of the trains on their smartphones. File Photo

The IR is creating a GPS system for suburban locals that will allow commuters to know real-time status of its location and delays. “We are making changes in the passenger information system and are in touch with the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS),” said Vinay Mittal, chairman, Railway Board.

Trains with GPS will allow the control room to keep tab on individual trains. This would mean that if someone wants to know the status and location of a train, they could send a message to the controller. In fact this is already being tested on the Chennai suburban system.

“This will take at least eight months to come on line. Regular updates can be transmitted to commuters carrying smart phones with access to the Internet,” said a senior railway official on condition of anonymity.

Currently, a train management system (TMS) shows the approximate time of arrival at the station, but during a mega block or disruption in services, the system is dysfunctional.

Similarly another system, wherein information can be checked on one of the Indian Railways website of rail radar, is also being looked into. Currently the position of both long-distance and suburban train services can be checked on this website but the software and satellite are available only till Kalyan and further north.

“We are checking if this system can be developed all the way till Mumbai CST,” said another railway official.

These improvements are being worked out by the Indian Railways after they agreed that there was a communication failure to the passenger associations and commuters at large at the time of work at Thane.

“Shifting of Route Relay Interlocking was a huge project and quite essential. Disruption of train services was inevitable but there was a communication gap when it came to informing the passengers,” added Mittal.

Anand Paranjpe, member of Parliament (MP), also met Mittal on Saturday who said that in case of such major works, they should be informed who in turn will tell people at large.

The new system at Thane yard is yet to be connected with the control room at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) that is expected to take at least 10 days period.  

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