Indian Railways has just got its first “SMART” coach! The SMART coach has several new features that will go a long way in enhancing the safety of train journeys and enhancing passenger comfort.
Manufactured by the Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli as part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the SMART coach aims to provide world-class facilities to passengers with the help of an intelligent sensor-based system. These coaches have been built on the LHB-platform and comes equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and a centralised computer that in turn monitors all the sensors.
The SMART coach offers Indian Railways a single-window platform to monitor several key indicators of the train’s health – from coach diagnosis to security and surveillance system. From a passenger’s perspective the SMART coach boasts of a WiFi hotspot information system. This means passengers can connect their devices [laptop, tables and mobile phones] and watch movies and play songs.
The SMART coach has a vibration-based self power harvesting sensor that is there on the axle box. This helps predict wheel defects, defects on the bearings, and hard spot (defects) on the track. This will eliminate line failures. It has a Passenger Information and Coach Computing Unit (PICCU) a CPU that is similar to an industrial grade computer. This has been provided with GSM network which sends ‘exception reports’ to the remote server. PICCU will monitor four important areas of coach maintenance and passenger interface.
Coach diagnostic system: The SMART coach system can monitor the brake system and detect any default in it. This in turn can be communicated to the maintenance staff.
Security and surveillance system: CCTV system with artificial intelligence capability will improve the security standards of the train and also help in keeping a check on the behaviour of the railway staff. The footage would help track untoward incidents.
GPS-based passenger announcement and passenger information system: The passenger information system keeps passengers informed about the current location of the train, expected time of arrival at the next station and the speed of the train.
According to Indian Railways, the overall maintenance cost will come down since the sensor-based system will provide advance notification about impending faults. Indian Railways claims that the cost of the system – approximately Rs 12-14 lakh will be recovered in a year’s time.