Last weekend was tough for our country, around 288 people lost their lives and nearly 1000 died in the train accident in Balasore. This disastrous incident has put a question mark on ‘Kavach’, the automatic train protection system. According to PIB reports, Kavach has been designed to assist locomotive pilots in avoiding Signal Passing At Danger (SPAD) and overspeeding while also providing support for train operations during adverse weather conditions such as dense fog.
What is Kavach?
The Kavach automatic train protection (ATP) system was created by the Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO) for the Indian Railways. A technology with safety integrity level 4 (SIL-4) certification constitutes the Kavach system. In 2012, work on developing India's own automatic protection system or collision avoidance system got underway as a project Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). The Kavach system is being developed as part of Indian Railways' effort to have zero accidents.
The salient features of the said Kavach system are as under-
- Kavach helps to maintain the speed of the train with the automatic application of brakes in any odd situation
- During the foggy weather and high speed, it repeats the line-side signal in the cab and auto whistles at LC gates.
- Kavach works on the principle of continuous update of Movement authority.
- Aoids collision maximum of times with direct loco-to-loco communication.
- It actively uses the SOS to prevent any kind of mishap and accidents.
The system comprises a number of electronic and RFID devices that are put in locomotives, tracks, the railway signalling system, and each station at a distance of one kilometre. While a 4G LTE-based system is being developed, the system now uses ultra-high radio frequencies to connect with its components. When a loco driver jumps a signal (Signal Passed at Danger, or SPAD), which is the main reason for train crashes, Kavach sends out a warning. When the system detects another train on the same line within a set distance, it can instantly warn the loco pilot, and take control of the brakes. During inclement weather, such as fog, the gadget continuously monitors train progress and transmits signals ahead to the engines. The Kavach combines significant elements from both the Indian anti-collision device and the European Train Control System.
The Kavach is now being implemented on 1200 km of the South Central Railway zone's 1445 km of track, 65 locomotives, and 134 stops. As part of the Mission Raftar project of the Indian Railway, the Kavach automatic protection system will be updated to handle 160 kmph top speed before it is put into use on the 3000 km length of the New Delhi-Mumbai main line and the Howrah-Delhi main line.
The Golden Quadrilateral rail line and the Kavach system were approved for rapid development in India's Union Budget for the fiscal years 2022–2023 and 34,000–km, respectively.
Newly constructed WAG-9HH locomotives, with top speeds of 120 kmph, will be fitted with Kavach automatic protection systems. The sum of money spent on the development of Kavach is 16.99 crores. With a completion date of March 2024, the Kavach deployment is scheduled on the New Delhi-Howrah and New Delhi-Mumbai routes.