Tag Archives: unmanned level crossings

West-Central Railway becomes first zone to eliminate Unmanned Level Crossings

The West-Central Railway (WCR) zone headquartered in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh has become the first Railway Zone in Indian Railways to eliminate all unmanned level crossings. The target was achieved after all 118 unmanned level crossings of WCR zone were eliminated in phase manner by August 31, 2015. 80 crossings were eliminated in the financial year 2014-15 and the remaining 38 crossings were eliminated in August 2015.

This target was achieved by constructing 33 Limited Height Sub Ways (LHs) and manning of 30 level crossings. It is a being considered as a big success in the safety initiative of Indian Railways as unmanned railway crossings continue to remain a deathtrap in India as alone it had killed 126 people in 2014-15. Elimination all unmanned level crossings Union Railway Ministry has taken a series of safety steps to prevent accidents at these unmanned railway crossings.

Indian Railways have around 30,348 level crossings, out of which 11,563 i.e. nearly 40 per cent, are unmanned. Some of the safety initiatives include closing of many crossings, construction of rail overbridge and rail underbridge. At certain places Gate Mitra and Gate Counsellors are also deployed. Indian Railways is also planning to tie up with India Space Research Organistion (ISRO) to safety crossing system using Geo-spatial technologies. These technologies will include combination of Global Positioning System (GPS), Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing in order to send mobile message alerts to people in vicinity of an unmanned level crossing.

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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Suresh Prabhu meets FM Arun Jaitley to seek adequate funding for rail safety

Aiming to attain zero accident rate, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to seek adequate allocation for a special fund for safety upgradation.

“Met @arunjaitley for extra support for safety fund which we launch soon. As always he’s fully supportive.” Prabhu tweeted.

A senior Railway Ministry official involved with satefy said, “There is a need to create special safety fund for eliminating unmanned level crossings, track renewal, signal upgradation and installation of train collision avoidance system for attaining zero accident rate in the public transporter.”

Giving priority to passenger safety, Prabhu has announced zero accident mission in the railways.

Asked about the amount sought from the Finance Ministry for the special safety fund, the official said, “All departments concerned have been asked to furnish details.

Though the total amount to be sought has not been finalised yet, it is likely to be around Rs one lakh crore.” Track renewal and signal upgradation will also help in decongesting the rail network in the busy routes.

Once the amount is finalised, the Railway Minister will submit the proposal to the Finance Ministry seeking the special fund as extra budgetary support for safety enahancement.

Elimination of level crossings through construction of road overbridges and road underbridges, installation of TCAS, signal upgradation are essential for the railways to achieve zero accident rate, officials said.

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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Indian Railways develop warning system for unmanned level crossings

Indian Railway has developed a vandal-proof warning system for unmanned level crossings which is working satisfactorily for the last three months on Coimbatore-Metupallayam section.

Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), railways’ research wing, which has finalised the specifications of the system, has recommended to all zonal railways to initiate steps for installation of the warning system in their respective areas as a step towards prevention of accidents, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the safety drive.

Mishaps at level crossings account for about 40 per cent of train accidents and about 60 per cent of fatalities due to the failure of the railways to man these crossings or build road overbridges or underpass.

There are 30,348 level crossings across the country out of which around 11,563 are unmanned.

The system is equipped with two blinkers and one siren to alert people when a train is within one km radius of the level crossing.

“Fitted with solar panel, it has a theft protection system,” said the official, adding, “in case of vandalisation of the system at the level crossing by unscrupulous elements or for any other reason, SMS alert will be sent to pre-programmed mobile numbers.”

Besides, there is a provision in the system for sending SMS alerts about trains crossing to pre-programmed mobile numbers.

The system consists of two sensor modules and a control module in which train movements are detected and siren and blinker alerts are produced when the train is within one km of the level crossing. Sensor modules are located within one km of level crossing to detect train movement on track.

The system has been developed with a Mumbai-based vendor and RDSO will call for an expression of interest from other vendors for the production of more such systems.

RDSO has in a letter to the Railway Board recommended that each railway zone may be advised to install at least one or two systems for field trials before large-scale development can be initiated.

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Indian Railway develops warning system for unmanned level crossings

Indian Railway has developed a vandal-proof warning system for unmanned level crossings which is working satisfactorily for the last three months on Coimbatore-Metupallayam section.

Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), railways’ research wing, which has finalised the specifications of the system, has recommended to all zonal railways to initiate steps for installation of the warning system in their respective areas as a step towards prevention of accidents, said a senior ..

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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


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NIT-K Surathkal students to secure unmanned level crossings

To reduce death tolls at unmanned level crossings, NIT-K, Surathkal faculty and students are working on a system to provide advance warning at unmanned level crossings.

The Indian Railways network has a large number of unmanned level crossings spread all over the country, especially in sparsely populated areas. Therefore, there is an urgent need to devise a simple system that can detect the presence of the train when it is at a fair distance – approximately 5 kilometres from the location of the level crossing and provide an audio-visual warning so that people, vehicles, people and livestock can move away from the location of the level crossing, said Prof U Sripati Acharya and Laxminidhi T, faculty members, ECE department, NITK, Surathkal.

The department has signed a memorandum of understanding with Palakkad division – Southern Railway. Explaining the technology approach, Acharya said a lot vibration is generated when a train is in motion.

“We planned to install a sensitive vibration sensor/ acoustic sensor on the track/ sleeper near the level-crossing and constantly monitor its output. This will give us an understanding of the average signal amplitudes produced by different categories of traffic at the reference distance from the level crossing. Further, the output of the vibration sensor will be monitored by the microcontroller device which will process the readings and infer the presence of the train, its type and velocity.

“After sensing the unambiguous presence of the train, it will trigger the audio-visual warning system placed close to the level crossing. After the train crosses the level crossing, the system will reset itself and wait for the arrival of the next train,” he added.

However, developing a device and checking it is a Herculean task. Acharya said these sensors must be highly sensitive, be rugged and environment proof, be capable of being mounted on the track/ sleeper and must be able to exchange signals with the microcontroller. “We will identify the broad and vibration signatures of different type of trains and store them in memory. The vibration produced by a vehicle moving in the track will be acquired and compared with the patterns stored in memory,” he said.

The systems will be deployed in remote locations which do not have electricity supply and power battery charged by a solar panel. The biggest problem is that the equipment will have to be housed in weather-proof and vandal proof housing. Moreover, due to a heavy train movement, the vibration/ acceleration sensor will have to mounted securely on the track and be hermetically sealed against the moisture ingress. Laxminidhi said the department is expected to install five prototypes at various level crossings that have been identified by Southern Railway. After extensive field testing under controlled conditions, they will be deployed in unmanned level crossings.

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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Mountain railways: Picture-perfect journeys


The mountain railways of India is a unique heritage tourism experience which is popular with both international and domestic crowd. Better packaging and marketing can further enhance these rail journeys as a global tourism product

The mountain railways of India are an integral part of the country’s rich legacy. The most famous are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway and Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Other heritage railways completing the list are Kangra Valley railway and hill section (Lumding-Halflong-Badarpur) of the Northeast Frontier Railway.

Darjeeling’s pride

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a fine example of a rail transportation system, situated at a height of 2,067 metres. Started in 1881, this ‘toy train’ takes off from New Jalpaiguri, going up 88 km to Darjeeling and passing through dense forest on hill slopes, reverses and loops – among the most famous being Batasia, that provides a glimpse of Mount Kanchenjunga. The section has eight major bridges, 542 minor bridges and 177 unmanned crossings.

Partha Guha, general secretary, Eastern Himalayas Travel and Tour Operators’ Association (EHTTOA) says, “This train is popular with both international as well as domestic tourists who are keen to experience the journey. The last two – three years there were landslides because of which the entire route has not been opened. For the last three years part of the route was closed, after the monsoons the route will be reopened in the month of October before the start of the festive season and we are hoping that the big journey will start.” In Darjeeling even if a tourist stays for a night, the joy ride is a compulsory inclusion in the itinerary.

The whole journey takes eight to nine hours. According to Guha, most tourists do not want to take the entire route, they are interested in the joy ride which starts from Darjeeling and goes to Batasia route which is very popular. There are two types of trains for the joy ride, one is heritage steam engine and the other is diesel engine. “The steam engine is more than 100 years old, for which it has got the World Heritage status. The diesel engines are not that popular, they are fast and powerful but lack the heritage feeling. The problem is that the steam engines are old and the diesel ones are not popular. The heritage trains rates are Rs 1300 while for diesel it is about Rs 850. It is difficult to get tickets for the hertiage train,” adds Guha.

There are four rides every day. The joy ride is mostly part of the package. “In the morning after the trip to Tiger Hill, tourists have their breakfast and then they go for a joy ride. It is part of the main itinerary now, previously it was not that popular and people used to go on their own,” states Guha, affirming that it has a great potential as a tourism product.

Legacy of the Raj

Kalka-Shimla Railways dates back to the pre-Independence era and was opened to public in 1903. The six-hour journey takes travellers through many picturesque stations like Dharampur and Taksa, tunnels and many arched bridges as well as offering views of the Himalayan snow-capped peaks.

The journey starts from Kalka railway station and it takes about five – six hours to reach Shimla. Major stations are at Dharampur, Barog, Solan, Kanda Ghat and Summer Hill. People take only one way journey on this train. Ankur Sodhi, owner of Pine Valley Holidays, Shimla who exclusively provides travel packages for Himachal Pradesh says, “We get emails from all over the world and get about 10 calls daily for booking of Kalka-Shimla toy train. As a tour operator our main problem is that there is no option for Tatkal booking. We always recommend tourists to do their bookings from IRCTC website. Alternately, we also book their trains from Indian Railways here in Shimla. There are only five trains every day, during summer vacations there are also holiday special trains.” Pointing out that these trains are overbooked, Sodhi adds, that apart from the issue of Tatkal booking which handicaps the tour operators, the journey offers a lot to the tourists in terms of the scenic route.


Another world heritage site is the Nilgiri Mountain railways nestled amidst the Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu. Opened in 1899 from Mettupalalyam to Coonoor and later extended to Ooty in 1908, the main attraction of this line are its unique tracks and complicated steam locomotives. It passes through 16 tunnels, forest-clad mountains and tea plantations.

While Matheran Light Railways was opened to public in 1907, the Kangra Valley railway in Himachal Pradesh opened to traffic in 1929. It is famous for its bridges, a total of 933, and at 1,289 metres, its highest station at Ajhu offers a view of the Himalayas.

The mountain railways have been marked as protected areas of natural, environmental and cultural value. These heritage parks have to be harnessed with innovative social and technological ideas that encourage visitors to bond with the local community, thus demanding that the area be protected and conserved for sustainable development.

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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Now, Level-crossings to be Armed with GSM Alarms

In an attempt to prevent accidents at unmanned level-crossings, the Salem Railway Division is planning to install audio-visual alarms in all its 89 unmanned level-crossings.

The audio-visual system is nothing but an automatic system that produces sound and light when the train reaches the level-crossings, and this would be visible and audible to those who are approaching level-crossings.

“It is a GSM alarm system that can be installed in gates and also there are GPS alarm systems that can be installed in trains,” informed railway sources.

“The system calculates the current train position, speed of train and also calculates the distance between the train from the level-crossings and time it takes to reach the station. In accordance with this, the GSM system produces various alarms and blinking lights. The sound intensity of the alarm and lights would vary with the relative distance of the train from the gate, and also the speed of the train. With the train getting closer to the gate, the volume and nature of signal will be intense,” the sources added further.

The GPS system installed in trains will help loco pilots sense the presence of obstacles like humans, animals, vehicles etc., in the level-crossings so as to either stop or slow down the train.

“There is no official announcement about this system, but our telecommunication team has been experimenting with this. Once successful, official declaration will be done,” said sources.

However, the Railway Passengers Association (RPA) is apprehensive, and has termed the system as not a perfect solution for the problem. “We have given representations  some months back to have a railway gate and a level-crossing guard in all un-manned level-crossings falling under the Salem division. But the railways have not responded positively. The new alarm system is cost effective, but may not serve the purpose,” said Mohan Sankar, president of RPA.

He also said that the alarm may be useful for pedestrians, but commuters may not even pay attention to the alarm. “Generally, the public try to cross the track at the earliest. But only when an accident occurs, do we realise that the alarm system is not useful. The railways have to seriously think of setting up gates and post guards at the earliest.”

New Indian Express

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Posted by on September 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


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