On March 4 in Secunderabad, two trains will rush towards each other at full speed, one with the Minister of Railways on board and the other with the Chairman of the Railway Board. But the two trains will not collide, thanks to ‘Kavach’. “Kavach”, which literally means armor, is promoted by the railways as the cheapest automatic rail collision protection system in the world.
The locally developed Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system was designed to help railways achieve the goal of “zero accidents”. Kavach is designed to automatically stop a train when it notices another train on the same line within a prescribed distance.
Also read: What is KAVACH anti-collision technology and how does it work?
Trains will also stop on their own when the digital system notices a manual error such as a red signal “jump” or any other malfunction, senior officials said. Once implemented, it will cost Rs 50 lakh per kilometer to operate, compared to around Rs 2 crore globally, they said.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw will be in Secunderabad to take part in a trial of the system on the Sanatnagar-Sankarpalli section. “The Minister of Railways and the CRB (Chairman of the Railway Board) will participate in the trial which will be held on March 4. We will show how the system works in three situations: frontal collisions, collisions by the back and the signal passed to danger (Spads),” the official said.
A signal is passed in case of danger (SPAD) when a train passes a stop signal when it is not authorized to do so. ‘Kavach’ controls the speed of the train by automatic application of the brakes in case the locomotive driver does not.
“It operates on the principle of continuously updating movement using high frequency radio communication. It also complies with SIL-4 (Safety Integrity Level – 4) which is the highest level of safety certification.
“RFID tags are provided on the tracks and in the yard for each track and signals for track identification, train location and train direction identification. The on-board display of signal aspect (OBDSA) is to help locomotive drivers check signals on on-board consoles even when visibility is poor,” an official said.
Additionally, once the system is activated, all trains within a 5 km radius will stop to provide protection for trains on adjacent tracks. Currently, loco pilots or assistant loco pilots typically stick their necks out the window to watch for warning signs and signals, officials said.
It also includes fixed equipment to collect signal inputs and locomotive inputs and relay them to a central system for seamless communication with the train crew and stations. The first field trials on passenger trains began in February 2016 and based on the experience gained, the initial specifications of the Kavach were finalized in May 2017.
Subsequently, the independent safety assessment of the system by a third party (Independent Safety Assessor. ISA) was conducted and based on the development project and the ISA safety assessment, three companies were approved by the railway’s RDSO (Research Design and Standards Organisation) in 2018-19 to work up to a train speed of 110 km/h.
Subsequently, based on additional tests, Kavach was approved for speeds of up to 160 km/h. The railways are trying to find more suppliers of this technology.
Announced in the union’s 2022 budget under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, 2,000 km of railway network is expected to be integrated with world-class indigenous technology “Kavach”, for safety and increased capacity in 2022 -23.
So far, Kavach has been deployed on over 1,098 km of route and 65 locomotives in South Central Railway’s ongoing projects. In addition, Kavach is expected to be implemented on the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi Howrah corridors, having a total kilometer of about 3000 km, under the “Mission Raftar project for speed increase to 160 km/h. Tenders for this work have been launched,” the officials said.