EXPLAINER: All about train protection system 'Kavach' that was not available on accident route

The railways has said that "Kavach" was not available on the route where the Odisha train accident occurred on Friday evening.

NEW DELHI: The train accident in Odisha's Balasore, which killed at least 261 people and injured nearly 1,000, has brought the railways' automatic train protection system "Kavach" into focus.

#BharatKaKavach Kavach : Automatic Train Protection (ATP) Systems. pic.twitter.com/2XVJYxNCoN

— East Central Railway (@ECRlyHJP) March 4, 2022

The railways has said that "Kavach" was not available on the route where the accident occurred on Friday evening.

Many have been asking this question. The Railways do have an indigenous Automatic Train Protection (ATP) System called Kavach, developed by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO). Apparently it hadn’t been installed on the route in which this accident occurred.… https://t.co/XIFdjBpsFU

— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) June 3, 2023

What is Kavach?

Indian Railways has developed its own automatic train protection system called "Kavach" for enhancing safety of running trains.

Kavach has been developed indigenously by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in association with three Indian vendors.

Kavach will not only aid loco pilots to avoid signal passing at danger and over-speeding but also help in running trains during inclement weather such as dense fog.

Thus, Kavach will enhance safety and efficiency of train operations.

SPAD test, tried crossing signal at red. Kavach is protecting and not allowing the Loco to move.#BharatKaKavach pic.twitter.com/x6Ys9iz9xJ

— Ashwini Vaishnaw (@AshwiniVaishnaw) March 4, 2022

Salient features of Kavach

- Controls speed of a train by automatic application of brakes in case loco pilot fails to apply the brakes.

- Repeats line-side signal in cab which is very useful for higher speeds and foggy weather.

- Works on principle of continuous update of movement authority.

- Auto whistling at level-crossing gates.

- Collision avoidance by direct loco to loco communication.

- Supports feature of SOS in case of any mishap to control train in vicinity.

Industrialist Anand Mahindra said a thorough initiative is required to examine if Kavach needs any ‘scope enhancement’.

ALSO READ | Odisha train crash: Toll climbs to 288, initial report blames human error and signal failure

How does Kavach work?

The Kavach system depends on electronic and radio frequency devices installed in locomotives, tracks, railway signalling system and every station at a 1 km distance. The system can alert, take control of the brakes and bring train movement to a halt automatically when a loco pilot jumps a signal or notices another train on the same line. The device continuously monitors train movement and sends signals ahead to the locomotives. 

Has Kavach been tested?

Railway Minister Vaishnaw had personally tested the 'Kavach' system in March 2022. "Rear-end collision testing is successful. Kavach automatically stopped the locomotive before 380 m of other locomotive at the front," Vaishnaw tweeted.

Rear-end collision testing is successful. Kavach automatically stopped the Loco before 380m of other Loco at the front.#BharatKaKavach pic.twitter.com/GNL7DJZL9F

— Ashwini Vaishnaw (@AshwiniVaishnaw) March 4, 2022

Trials of Kavach were conducted on the Lingampally-Vikarabad-Wadi and Vikarabad-Bidar sections of South Central Railway, covering a distance of 250 kilometres.

Following successful trials, three vendors were approved for further developmental orders on the Indian Railways network.

The total expenditure incurred on the development of Kavach stands at Rs 16.88 crore.

The roll-out of Kavach on the New Delhi-Howrah and New Delhi-Mumbai sections has a target completion date of March 2024. Further expansion will be based on the experience gained, officials said.

How many trains/tracks have this system?

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on March 29, 2023, that Kavach has been deployed on 1,455 km of the rail route, out of which 576 km is in the state of Maharashtra.

It is already implemented on 65 locomotives and 134 stations in South Central Railway zone, while implementation on 1200 km is underway.

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