KAVACH is supposed to be a state-of-the-art electronic system which was designed to help the Indian Railways achieve Zero Accidents.
It is an Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system which has been indigenously developed by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in collaboration with the Indian industry with trials facilitated by South Central Railway to achieve the corporate objective of safety in train operations across Indian Railways.
It activates the train braking system automatically if the driver fails to control the train as per the speed restrictions.
In addition, it prevents collision between two Locomotives equipped with a functional KAVACH system.
It is a Safety Integrity Level 4 (SIL-4) certified technology with the probability of error being one in 10,000 years.
Once implemented, KAVACH will be the world’s cheapest automatic train collision protection system, costing ₹50 lakh per kilometre to operate compared to about ₹2 crore worldwide. It also opens avenues of export of this indigenous technology for Railways.
When was it first tested?
On March 4, 2022, the successful trial of KAVACH was conducted between Gullaguda–Chitgidda Railway stations of South Central Railway.
Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw inspected the trial, during which a head-on-collision situation was created with two locomotives moving towards each other.
The KAVACH system initiated the automatic braking system and halted the locomotives 380 metres apart.
Crossing of the red signal was also tested wherein the locomotive did not cross the red signal as KAVACH necessitated the application of brakes automatically. Automatic whistle sound was loud and clear when gate signal approached.
Further, KAVACH automatically reduced the speed to 30 kmph from 60 kmph as the locomotive entered the loop line.
What are the highlighted features of KAVACH?
Some features which were highlighted by the Ministry include:
- Prevention of Signal Passing at Danger (SPAD)
- Continuous update of Movement Authority with display of signal aspects in Driver
- Machine Interface (DMI) / Loco Pilot operation cum Indication Panel (LPOCIP)
- Automatic Braking for Prevention of Over Speeding
- Auto Whistling while approaching Level Crossing Gates
- Prevention of collision between two Locomotives equipped with functional KAVACH
- SoS Messages during emergency situations
- Centralised live monitoring of Train movements through Network Monitor System.
What is the deployment strategy for KAVACH?
Indian Railways had plans to implement KAVACH protection system to an extent of 2000 km during 2022-23. Around 34,000 km of network will be brought under KAVACH.
It was said, 96 per cent of railway Traffic is carried on Indian Railway High-Density Network and Highly Used Network routes. To transport this traffic safely, KAVACH works are being taken up in a focused manner by the Railway Board.
The first priority was high-density routes and on New Delhi - Mumbai and New Delhi - Howrah Sections for 160 kmph with Automatic Block Signaling & Centralised Traffic Control, since such sections have higher chances of human errors on the part of drivers as trains run closer to each other.
The next priority was the Highly Used Networks with Automatic Block Signaling & Centralised Traffic Control.
The third was on other Passenger High Density Routes with Automatic Block Signaling.
The fourth phase was all other remaining routes.
The system was planned to be further extended to an additional 4,000 to 5,000 km in FY24.
According to Railway officials, 4G spectrum has been allocated to Indian Railways which will assist in further improving the reliability of train operations.
However, as per a reply by the Minister in the Lok Sabha, the total expenditure incurred on the development of the anti-collision system stands at ₹16.88 crore. The rollout of Kavach is planned on the New Delhi–Howrah and New Delhi–Mumbai sections, with a target completion date of March 2024. Further expansion will be based on the experience gained from the initial implementation.
Till now 1,455 Rkm (Route Kilometre) of network route in South Central Railway has been brought under Kavach, out of which 576 Rkm comes under Maharashtra State i.e. Manmad (Excluding) -Dhamabad & Udgir-Parbhani section. Kavach System in Ramtek Nagpur Parliamentary Constituency has not been covered yet.
Expenditure on Kavach is ₹22 crore as per last reports.
Could KAVACH have prevented the Odisha accident?
Kavach hit the news after an incident in Balasore district of Odisha. Three trains collided in a sequence of events, resulting in at least 238 deaths and injuries to over 900 individuals.
Amid the aftermath of the incident, many are now arguing that Kavach would have prevented the accident.
However, as per a statement of the Railways, KAVACH was not available on this route.
Also, as per the last statement of the Railways issued around noon, the rescue operations were completed, and restoration work on the route has begun.