A RECOMMENDATION from India’s National Railway Safety Commission that automatic train protection should be installed on some 15000 route-km of main lines over the next seven years has been accepted by the government. The cost is likely to be around US$1bn.

The decision to install ATP follows the head-on collision at 120 km/h between the Bramaputra Mail and the Avadh Assam Express at Gaisal on August 2 1999. One of the trains was diverted irregularly on to the wrong track of the Northeast Frontier Railway’s double-track main line to Assam (RG 9.99 p549). The death toll of 286 came close to matching the 300 killed at Firozabad near Agra some four years earlier.

Mr S K Khanna, Member Electrical of the Indian Railway Board, attended a UIC conference on the European Rail Traffic Management System in Paris on November 25 - 26 to tell suppliers what is required. IR expects to adopt ETCS Level 2, which retains conventional interlockings and track circuits, but transmits signal aspects to the train electronically. Data transmission would probably use radio because Siemens ZUB train protection installed on suburban routes in Kolkata had been stolen or vandalised, although it operates successfully in Mumbai.

Proposals are to be invited shortly for a pilot project. This will see 84 km of the 145 km double-track main line between Delhi and Mathura Junction equipped, along with 40 locomotives. ETCS is favoured because it means that a range of equipment, with compatibility fully demonstrated by the Emset project (RG 12.97 p853), can be procured competitively from major signalling suppliers.

Once the viability of ETCS Level 2 has been confirmed in IR’s environment, it will be rolled out along trunk lines between the four principal cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. These total some 9500route-km. Other busy routes will follow including Delhi to Amritsar. n

Following its 1995 order for GT46MAC AC-motored freight diesels from General Motors EMD, in a technology transfer deal for 13 to be supplied complete and the other eight assembled at DLW Varanasi, Indian Railways has now ordered 10 passenger diesels from GM EMD.