With Mumbai Metro set to start soon, here's a look at its heart

May 06, 2014, 07:56 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

This is the Operation Control Centre that will keep Mumbai's first Metro project, the 11.04-km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line, up and running through good and bad times

With the 11.04-km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro line set to be inaugurated soon as it has received the final safety certification from the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS), mid-day takes a look at how the Operation Control Centre of the Metro works and how it will handle things during an emergency.

Different sections in the Operation Control Centre handle six vital operational aspects of the Metro
Different sections in the Operation Control Centre handle six vital operational aspects of the Metro

The basics
The Operation Control Centre (OCC) is divided into 6 sections: Chief Controller, Traffic Controller, Traction Power Controller, Auxiliary System Controller, Depot Controller and Timetable Planner.

Chief Controller
Supervises the operations of the other five sections by guiding and initiating remedial/recovery plans in case of failures. The Chief Controller informs, and coordinates with, internal and external agencies in case of an emergency.

Traffic Controller
He is responsible for management of trains on the main line and is the point of contact for train pilots and during train operations. The traffic controller is in charge of setting routes and signals. He also monitors and controls the Automatic Train Supervision (ATS) system and executes traffic regulations and delay recovery plans. All non–revenue hours, including trial runs, are authorized by the traffic controller.

Traction Power Controller
He is responsible for the entire traction power system of the Metro. He is in-charge of, and manages, the entire 25-KV AC supply on the viaduct, depot and also the 11-KV AC supply to stations for various equipment (lighting, lifts, escalators, fire pumps etc). He also oversees and interfaces with Reliance Energy for the 33-KV AC supply.

Auxiliary System Controller
He has to manage the functionality of equipment at stations like lifts, escalators, fire alarms etc through a well-defined Intelligent Building Management System (IBMS). He observes all the activities in stations through CCTV cameras to help in crowd management and makes announcements at stations from time to time.

Depot Controller
He is responsible for the induction and withdrawal of trains from the depot to the viaduct. He plans the parking/stabling and shunting of trains in the depot. He also oversees the planning and delivering of trains for maintenance activities and their light and heavy cleaning in the wash plant.

Timetable Planner
He is responsible for the timetable of train services 
and its upload in the Automatic Train Supervision system.

*It must be noted that all the controllers are trained and multi-skilled and are rotated at regular intervals


Q. How many people work in the control room at a time?
A. The Operation Control Centre is manned 24X7, 365 days a year. The Chief Controllers and other controllers work in 3 shifts a day. At least five people work in the OCC at any given time.

Q. What role does the control room play in an emergency?
A. The OCC will take control in case of a fire or any other mishap and functions according to detailed disaster management guidelines. Some of the key aspects it is designed to look into are:
>> Regularising trains in the affected section
>> Informing and coordinating with external agencies like the police, fire brigade, ambulance services and the Disaster Management Cell of MCGM 
>> Evacuation of trains, stations 
>> Initiating and activating emergency measures 
>> Setting up Incident Management Room (IMR) 
>> Continuous coordination with the Disaster Response Team and Disaster Management Team

Q. Can officials in the room take over a train during an emergency?
A. The Metro trains have the option of putting the rolling stock in auto mode and if the pilot is unwell, he has the option to switch modes. In case the pilot is in a critical situation and loses his grip on the machine, a “dead man device” is activated within a few seconds and the train comes to a halt. The OCC will immediately know that the train has stopped between stations and send a station controller to the stalled train, who will then pilot it to the next station. The OCC will also control the movement of other trains on the same line to avoid any clash.

Q. What real-time data can the control room officials access?
A. One big screen in the OCC is divided into two portions. The upper portion displays the dynamic status of each train, route and signal on a real-time basis while the lower portion displays the status of the 25 KV AC traction power supply on each section of the main line. Faults in the supply are noticed immediately through this.

Q. Does the control room have a backup too?
A. The OCC has a three–tier backup as it is a vital part of the Metro system. A replica of the control room is functional in a separate building in the depot and can be used in case of a fire or any other problems in the OCC building. Control can be switched from one room to another in a matter of seconds through the ATS system. Train operations can also be monitored and controlled from the Versova station, where controllers have been trained to operate the ATS system.

Safety first

Spokesperson, Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL)
The OCC at Mumbai Metro Line 1 has been designed keeping the best global standards in mind. It is designed to operate the Metro System in the safest manner and to deal with all kinds of emergencies.

The length (in km) of the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro line

The minimum number of personnel that will be present in the control room at any given time

DISCLAIMER: mid-day and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

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