The accident of the Vande Bharat Express that plies between Mumbai and Gandhinagar, which killed four buffaloes, has instantly led to some quarters questioning the indigenous technology and manufacturing that went into the making of this train. However, a study of the accident suggests a lack of foresight on the part of the track-laying team, which caused a blind spot that is the root cause of the accident.
On 30 September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the Gandhinagar-Mumbai Vande Bharat Express at Gandhinagar station and took a ride on the train to Kalupur railway station in Ahmedabad.
“There was a turn along the path near Vatva that led to a blind spot. The train was travelling at a speed of about 100 km/h. The front portion of the train made up of fibre was damaged,” an Indian Railways official said.
Except for the death of four buffaloes due to the impact, the Vande Bharat Express train passengers are safe.
The Indian Railways spokesperson said no functional part got damaged in the incident. “The train moved just after removing carcasses and reached on time at Gandhinagar. The incident occurred between Gairatpur-Vatva station. The Railways is trying to counsel nearby villagers not to leave cattle near the tracks,” the spokesperson said.
The technology used for safety in Vande Bharat Express
The Vande Bharat Express offers a lot of superior and aircraft-like travelling experiences. This indigenously developed train operates between Gandhinagar to Mumbai and is the first Vande Bharat train equipped with the ‘Kavach’ technique. It is an automatic protection system that prevents two trains from colliding.
On 23 March 2022, the union government via Press Information Bureau informed the people that the Indian Railways has developed its own Automatic Train Protection (ATP) System called Kavach for enhancing the safety of running trains. The RDSO, in association with three Indian vendors, developed Kavach indigenously. It has been adopted as the country's National ATP System.
What are the safety mechanisms in Kavach?
Kavach not only aids the train driver to avoid Signal Passing At Danger (SPAD) and overspeeding but also helps in train running during inclement weather such as dense fog. Thus, Kavach enhances the safety and efficiency of train operations.
The salient features of the said Kavach system are:
- Controlling the speed of the train by automatic application of brakes in case the driver fails to apply the brakes
- Repeating line-side signal in the cab is very useful for higher speeds and foggy weather
- Working on the principle of continuous update of movement authority
- Auto-whistling at LC gates
- Avoiding collision by direct train-to-train communication
- Supporting the feature of SOS in case of any mishap to control train in the vicinity
The Indian Railways conducted the first phase of trials of Kavach on the absolute block section of the Lingamapalli-Vikarabad-Wadi, Vikarabad-Bidar (250 km) section of the South Central Railway. After the successful completion of trials, three vendors were approved for developmental orders on the Indian Railways.
Stretches on which Kavach has been applied
After successful trials, the work of Kavach on a 1,199 km stretch began in the Manmad-Mudkhed-Dhone-Guntakal and Bidar-Parbhani section of the South Central Railway.
Until March when the PIB shared the information above, nearly 1098 km of network route in South Central Railway had been brought under Kavach.
The total expenditure incurred so far on the development work of Kavach is Rs 16.88 crore.
At present, the Kavach rollout is planned for New Delhi-Howrah and New Delhi-Mumbai sections, which are targeted for completion by March 2024. A further rollout will be planned based on experience gained.
The Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronic and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, shared the data above with the parliament via a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.
Vande Bharat trains in the future
The country will have 400 Vande Bharat trains in future and 100 of these trains will be manufactured in the coach factory at Latur in Marathwada. The necessary changes in the factory are already being made."