Odisha Train Accident: Kavach, Anti-Collision System Designed to Control Train Accidents

National Desk: At least 300 people were killed and nearly 900 injured in a collision between three trains in Balaswar Odisha. At around 7 pm on Friday, the Coromandel Shalimar Express derailed from the tracks before hitting a goods train. This was followed by another passenger train, Yesvantpur-Howrah Superfast which hit the coaches and it derailed from the tracks.

To prevent such collisions between trains the Indian Railways had launched an indigenously developed automatic train protection system called “Kavach”. This system was designed with the aim of increasing the safety and efficiency of running trains. However ‘Kavach’ was not available on the railway tracks in Odisha.

 What is Kavach?

Kavach which means an anti-collision system designed for “zero accidents”. This system was developed by the country’s Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO). According to the Indian Railways, it is one of the cheapest safety measures that can prevent automatic trains from collisions. This technology is the safety Integrity Level 4 certified highest certification level at Safety Integrity Level 4. That is, in 10,000 years there is only one possibility of a mistake by Kavach.

The operating cost of this anti-rail collision system is Rs 50 lakh per km which is much lower than the cost of such technology used in other nations.

How does Kavach work?

Kavach communicates high frequency radio communication through high frequency radio waves and works on the decision of continuous updates of train movement to prevent collisions. If the driver fails to control the train then this arrangement automatically activates the brakes of the train. Kavach applies brakes to prevent collisions between two engines equipped with the system.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags are placed on track and at station yard to indicate track identification as well as determination of the location of the train and its direction. When the system is activated all trains within 5 km will stop so that the particular train can pass safely through the side track.

On Board Display of Signal Aspect (OBDSA) helps loco pilots see signals even when visibility is low due to bad weather. Usually loco pilots have to look out the window to identify signals.

Has Kavach been tested?

The central government had planned to bring 2000 km of rail network under Kavach by 2022-23. It aims to cover about 34,000 km of railway network. In March last year, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw oversaw an examination of Kavach. Ashvini Vaishnaw was present on one train while on the other train chairman of the railway board was present while testing two trains. Both the trains approached each other in full swing. According to Vaishnaw, Kavach was successful in stopping one train in front of 380 metres before the other.

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