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Indian Railways to deploy drone cameras, implement Real-Time Train Information System

The Indian Railways announced plans to deploy cameras on drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for a range of activities, including monitoring and maintenance of tracks and other railway infrastructure. Drone cameras will also be deployed to undertake monitoring the progress of projects and important works, as well as relief and rescue operations.  They will also be used to assess preparedness of Non-Interlocking (NI) works, for crowd management during public event such as fairs, to identify scrap and also for aerial survey of station yards.

Drones are also expected to play an instrumental role in providing real time inputs related to safety and maintenance of tracks and other railway infrastructure.

This initiative is in-line with the Railways’ desire to use technology to enhance safety and efficiency in train operations.

The Zonal Railways have been given directions to procure such cameras. West Central Railways (WCR) with its headquarters at Jabalpur in the state of Madhya Pradesh has become the first Zonal Railway to procure drone cameras. WCR recently conducted a trial-run of those cameras and it has further plans to use drones for project monitoring, important bridge inspections and monsoon preparedness in sections of railway passing through mountainous regions.  

Earlier, demonstration of “Drone” camera was done for project monitoring of Railway Electrification work of Jabalpur Yard.

Real-Time Train Information System

On January 3, the Government announced that the Ministry of would implement Real-Time Train Information System (RTIS) on trains in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This involves tracking of trains by placing GPS / GAGAN (GPS or Global Positioning System Aided Geo Augmented Navigation System) based devices on locomotives.

In Phase-I planned to be completed by December 2018, the RTIS project the GPS device will be installed in around 2700 electric locomotives. The remaining locomotives will be covered in subsequent phases.

The trials for the RTIS system have been done on New Delhi – Guwahati and New Delhi – Mumbai Rajdhani trains on six electric locomotives. A reliable and high level (about 99.3%) of real time reporting of arrival departure timing updates has been observed, which is considered adequate to meet the RTIS requirements.

The development of the RTIS is part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Indian Railways and ISRO in March 2016 for developing applications in the field of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System. The objectives of the MOU included: 1) Development of an advance warning system at Unmanned Railway Crossings for road users; 2) Mapping of Indian Railway assets through Geospatial technology; 3) Development of paperless unreserved ticketing solution based on geo-fencing of station area; 4) Developing RTIS by using Communication Satellite Services; 5) Setting up of “BHUVAN” (ISRO’s GIS tool) node in Indian Railways to internalize the use of BHUVAN geospatial solutions by Railways; 6) Meet Indian Railways satellite based communication requirements.

During 2017, the Railways introduced GPS-based Fog Pass devices which display the name and distance of approaching signals and other critical signal landmarks in advance during train operationBy the end of the year a total of 7263 Fog Pass devices had been procured and were being used in the most fog affected Railways.

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