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Railways attempt to make tracks signal failure proof to avert accidents

Indian Railways has undertaken remote condition monitoring of the system, a new approach for the national transporter, to predict failures through the effective use of Artificial Intelligence with an aim to reduce the possibility of signals failing leading to accidents. The new system will be tried out between Ahmedabad Vadodara on a pilot basis and depending on the success it will be extended to other regions

The signaling system is vital for safe train operations and the railways completely depend on the health of its signaling assets along with real time information.

Currently, the railways follow a manual maintenance system and adopt find-and-fix methods rather than predict-and-prevent approach.

The railways are introducing remote condition monitoring using non-intrusive sensors for continuous online monitoring of signals, track circuits, axle counters and their sub-systems of interlocking, power supply systems including the voltage and current levels, relays, timers, said a senior railways ministry sources.

The system entails the collection of inputs on a pre-determined interval and sending this to a central location. As a result, any flaws or problems in the signaling system would be detected on a real time basis and rectified to avoid possible delays and mishaps.

The failure of signals is one of the major reasons for train accidents and delays.

The public transporter that carries more than 23 million passengers daily has seen a spate of accidents in the last five years. A parliamentary standing committee report, presented in October 2016, said between 2003 to 2015, a total of 239 accidents have happened on the network of the Indian Railways and 208 of these or 80% of all accidents have happened because of derailments.

Currently remote monitoring of signaling is operational in Britain. The system envisages data transfer through a wireless medium (3G, 4G and high speed mobile) and data based on these inputs will be utilised, with help of Artificial Intelligence, for predictive and prescriptive Big Data analytics.

This will enable prediction of signaling asset failures, automated self-correction and informed decisions on intervention strategies, the sources said.

The railways have decided that trial be taken up in two sections of Western Railway and South Western Railway at Ahmedabad-Vadodara and Bengaluru-Mysuru. Depending upon the feedback, the system would gradually be extended to other sections.


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