INDIAN Railways was due to adopt a 10-year Railway Corporate Safety Plan last month, allocating 4% of turnover for investment in safety equipment. The plan was discussed by the IR Board on July 14, following discussions with the railway unions. It will provide around Rs16bn a year until 2013, on top of routine maintenance and renewals spending and Rs170bn allocated for replacement of ’over-aged assets’ under the Special Railway Safety Fund.

In a white paper issued in April, Minister of Railways Nitish Kumar pinpointed a recent spate of collisions as ’IR’s most critical area of concern ... because of the devastation they cause.’ Priorities include further track circuiting, axle-counters, the automatic warning system, and introduction of an Anti-Collision Device developed by Konkan Railway Corp.

ACD is an intelligent microprocessor-based system, which uses GPS and angular deviation counters to identify the location of locomotives and brake vans. Fixed units are also installed at stations and level crossings. All ACD units have digital modems and communicate by radio with all other units within a 3 km radius, triggering automatic brake applications if two units are deemed to be at risk of collision.

Following the completion of trials on Northern Railway’s Jalandhar - Amritsar line in January, Kumar authorised the installation of ACD on 1800 route-km of the Northeast Frontier Railway at a cost of Rs500m. GPS and route surveys are being undertaken on parts of the South Central and Southern zones. The cost of installing ACD on the entire network is put at Rs16bn over the next five years. The equipping of a further 1750 route-km has been included in the 2003-04 budget.