In the backdrop of back-to-back rail accidents, the current safety standards of Indian Railways have assumed center-stage again in India’s development agenda. Keeping this in mind, the Indian Railways has decided to collaborate with Australian firms to revamp railway safety in India. Called as Re-Build Railways, the tie-up will result in measures such as the development of high-tech driver training centers, adaptation of international safety models and procurement of sensor-based track detection machines from Australia.
In 2014, a $30 million tender floated by the Indian Railways for setting up driver training centers in 12 cities (Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Jalandhar, Vijayawada, Siliguri, Jhansi, Itarsi, Kharagpur, Ghaziabad and Tatanagar) was bagged by the Sydac Australia. Now nearing completion, the project has led to the development of 12 high-tech training centers with 3D rail simulators and 72 regular training centers with smaller simulators.
The importance of this project is underscored by the fact that India has around 86,000 train drivers who operate over 12,000 electric and diesel locomotives every single day to transport people and freight across the country. So the driving skills, alertness and ability to deal with hazardous events of drivers is critical to safety in train operations. This, along with route learning and fuel efficient driving, is the core areas of focus at the training centers. In another tie-up with an Australian firm, Indian Railways is partnering with Track IQ to procure high-tech equipment that includes sensor-based systems that can detect cracks in rail tracks.
With the aim of reducing rail accidents by 50 per cent in the next two years, Indian Railways is also working to make its safety research institute operational at the earliest. Named SRESTHA (Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology & Holistic Advancement), it will focus on developing cutting-edge rail technology for both local and global use. Simultaneously, it will also help Indian Railways adapt international models to the national rail environment. SRESTHA has already started working with Australia’s premier track and vehicle railway research center, Monash University Institute of Railway Technology (IRT), to help Indian Railways’ ambitious plans come to fruition.