Railways To Roll Out Tender For 10,000 Km Of ‘Kavach’, Safety System Missing On Bengal Route Where Trains Crashed

New Delhi: Indian Railways is rolling out tenders for 10000 km of Kavach, an automatic train protection system, to prevent accidents due to human error resulting in Signal Passing in danger and overspeeding. The public transporter has so far tendered 6000 km of the Kavach system while deployed on 1465 Route km and 139 locomotives (including Electric Multiple Unit rakes) on the South Central Railway, Business Today reported.

Kavach contracts have been awarded for Delhi- Mumbai (including Ahmedabad-Vadodara Section) & Delhi- Howrah (including Lucknow—Kanpur Section) corridors approximately 3000 route km covering Eastern Railway, East Central Railway, North Central Railway, Northern Railway, West Central Railway & Western Railway.

“Indian Railways has received the patent for Kavach and tenders are in proof for another 10,000 km. The system involves complexities and it has to be customised for every train. For example, a 5000-tonne goods train would need a 1-1.5 km distance to come to a halt while for MEMU (mainline electric multiple units) it will be 300-500 km. So, the system has to be devised accordingly,” a top railway ministry official was quoted as saying by the publication.

At present, three Indian OEMs –  HBL PowerSystems, Kernex, and Medha are approved for Kavach. Efforts are being made to develop more OEMs to enhance the capacity and scale up the implementation of Kavach. New OEMs are expected to be onboarded for the upcoming tenders as the railways plan to expedite the implementation of Kavach. The plan is to deploy Kavach on the entire 70,000 route kilometre to ensure the safety of passengers, the report added.

What is the system?

The system involves the laying of optical fibre cable, installation of telecom towers, equipment at stations, equipment in locomotives, and installation of trackside equipment. Kavach aids the loco pilot in trains running within specified speed limits by automatic application of brakes in case the Loco Pilot fails to do so and also helps the train safely run during inclement weather, according to the report.

Other benefits of ‘Kavach’ include the controlling speed of trains by automatic application of brakes on the approach of turnouts, repeating of signal aspects in the cab, which is useful for higher speeds and foggy weather, and auto whistling at level crossing gates.

The first field trials on the passenger trains were started in February 2016. Based on the experience so gained and the Independent Safety Assessment of the system by a 3rd party (Independent Safety Assessor: ISA) three firms were approved in 2018-19, for supply of Kavach. Subsequently, Kavach was adopted as a National ATP system in July 2020.

A 2022 video of the Railways Minister explaining how the system works:

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