There are many technologies which are now changing the landscape of the Railways & Metro Projects globally and few technologies which are being adopted are as follows:
1. Artificial Intelligence:
- Technology: Railways is utilizing Artificial Intelligence in multiple ways. Some examples such as customer experience, process optimization and asset maintenance can greatly benefit from the application of Artificial Intelligence tools and techniques.
- Uses: Artificial intelligence (AI) can help in route optimization; real time train movement monitoring; crew fostering; improving the price advantage of rail freight and improving logistics chain integration.
- Application and Potential: Railways is working on using artificial intelligence and data analytics in a big way to improve its operational efficiency across its complete system.
2. Biometric Token System:
- Technology: Biometric Token System (BTS) is a system by which passengers travelling in the general coach, where seats are not reserved, are given a token roughly three hours before the train’s departure.
- Uses: The data will be used to analyse the pattern of crowds and the number of people using a train.
- Application and Potential: The Western and Central Railways zone have launched the Biometric Token System (BTS) that seeks to streamline the process of boarding unreserved coaches.
3. Contactless Travel:
- Technology: Pandemic has made the contactless travel as very important for all passengers. The new contactless tickets are QR-coded. The code generated and provided to the passengers booking their tickets either online or at the counters and the QR code is sent to the passengers’ mobile phones.
- Uses: The code will be scanned at the station premises and the details will be updated and verified with the database.
- Application and Potential: The system uses QR code-enabled tickets on handheld devices and mobile phones at the stations and on the trains to make the commute of passengers easier and safer.
4. Cyber Security:
- Technology: Cybersecurity is becoming more important now than ever before. Railway systems and operators are increasingly coming under attack from cyberthreats. Cyber security’s core function is to protect the devices and systems and the services we access – both online and at work.
- Uses: Some of the potential uses are Ticketing, Freight operations, Train operations and Asset management which now rely heavily on IT Systems. These all systems are vulnerable and need protection.
- Application and Potential: Cyber Security measures must be implemented as per acceptable standards in the IT industry. This would entail creating best practices for protection of key infrastructure from cyber attacks, an emergency response system to cyber-attacks to reduce the application’s vulnerability to such threats and formulation of the policy / mechanism for ensuring adequate measures in such cases. Although, IT applications of Indian Railway have been developed with adequate security features based on these standard principles, the recent global cyber attacks show that we can never be complacent.
5. Digitalization of ecosystem:
- Technology: Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment and modernize their complete operations in sync with the changing times.
- Uses: Digital technologies are used in designing of coaches, signalling and traffic management, freight management, train services, workforce and customer management.
- Application and Potential: Railways and Metro projects are now completely adopting digitalization in its complete system ranging from digital planning of projects, BIM engineering, digital twin models, enhanced safety of passengers, predictive maintenance, data analytics for management and modernization of its complete system.
6. Driverless Train Operations:
- Technology: Driverless trains, also known as autonomous trains, are operated automatically without any human intervention and are monitored from the control station.
- Uses: The Driverless Train Operation (DTO) can bring more flexibility in train operations, reduce human interventions and human errors. It also helps in improving the availability of coaches for service.
- Application and Potential: The DTO facility was launched on the Magenta Line in 2020 with which the Delhi Metro had entered the elite league of world’s 7% Metros in the world which operate fully automated metro networks. Recently, DTO have been launched on the 59 kilometre long Pink Line (Majlis Park to Shiv Vihar) of Delhi Metro.
Image Credit (representational): DMRC
7. Green Energy:
- Technology: Indian Railways, being a significant consumer of energy resources, it is important to identify cost- effective energy system options with least environmental impact. Railways has planned to utilize its unused vacant Railway land for setting up of land based solar plants on vacant and unused land parcels and also along the railway
- Uses: Railways is working towards becoming the largest Green Railways in the world and is moving towards becoming a “net zero carbon emitter” before 2030
- Application and Potential: Railways has started setting up of solar plants at various places and has acted as a pioneer in green energy procurement. It has started energy procurement from various solar projects and have already been commissioned new projects on various stations and buildings of Indian Railways.
8. Head on Generation (HOG) System:
- Technology: This system is being provided in End On Generation trains, where power cars equipped with DG sets are provided at both the ends. The system is considered to provide a cost effective, reliable and energy efficient supply system for coaches.
- Uses: There is huge savings in diesel fuel consumption of power cars with the introduction of the HOG system in LHB coaches.
- Application and Potential: Railways has adopted an energy-efficient power supply system wherein power supply is drawn from Over Head Equipment (OHE) through converters provided in electric locomotive (WAP-7/WAP-5) for coach AC, lighting, fans etc. This also results in cost saving on energy consumption.
Image Credit (representational): Indian Railways
9. LiDAR Technology:
- Technology: LiDAR is a light detection and a remote sensing technology that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances to a target.
- Uses: The ground survey is a crucial activity for any linear infrastructure project as the survey provides accurate details of areas around the alignment.
- Application and Potential: National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited is adopting Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technology for its projects which provides all the ground details and data. Further, NHSRCL has been entrusted to prepare the Detailed Project Reports for seven (7) High Speed Rail Corridors and LiDAR survey technique will be used for ground survey in all the corridors.
Image Credit (representational): NHSRCL
10. Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock (OMRS):
- Technology: OMRS monitors the health of each rolling stock and identifies the defective bearings and wheels. Real time alarm is generated to take corrective action before the line failure of the rolling stock.
- Uses: Indian Railways is now going ahead with greater adoption of these maintenance systems with an aim towards predictive maintenance.
- Application and Potential: OMRS is being adopted by Indian Railways which consists of following sub-systems:
- Acoustic Bearing Detector (ABD)/ Bearing Acoustic Monitor (RailBAM) gives an early warning on possible defects in the bearing box, before reaching the stage of hot box.
- Wheel Impact Load Detector (WILD)/Wheel Condition Monitor (WCM) system measures the wheel impacts on tracks to identify the flat surface on wheels in Rolling Stock. This system is based on Accelerometer device to measure the wheel impacts.
- PhotoTAG system is used for vehicle identification using Visual (photographic) identification technique.
Image Credit (representational): MoR
The above technologies are changing the landscape of Railways & Metro projects in India. Further, new technologies are under development at various stages and the path towards modernization looks encouraging for the industry.
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