Pak Railways to Install VHF Digital Mobile Radios for Communications

Pakistan Railways has invited worldwide tenders for installation of Very High Frequency (VHF) Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) communication systems on four sections including:

  • Karachi-Peshawar
  • Lodhran to Khanewal (loop line via Multan)
  • Khanewal to Shorkot to Faisalabad to Shahdara Bagh
  • Wazirabad-Sangla hill.

Official sources revealed that the Railway Ministry has prepared short, medium and long term plans to control the trains’ accidents. PC-1 of a new project worth Rs. 730 million has been submitted to the Planning Division for an affective communication system.

Under the project provision of better communication equipment (VHF radio), for improving contact between ground staff and locomotive crew, would be ensured. Manned level crossings would be further upgraded with provision of signals and tracking/monitoring of trains through GPS/location devices.

Suggested by NESCOM

National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) has proposed a comprehensive safety model to help control the train collisions and accidents on level crossings.

Connected with a radio link, the system would be installed in the locomotives and at level crossings simultaneously, which will have warning lights and sirens to keep people alert.

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Sources said the locomotive speed system, vision systems, electro-mechanical system, train approaching warning system and train collision avoiding system would be devised to curb accidents in future.

Siemens, a renowned German company and the largest electronics manufacturing company in Europe, has offered an automated signalling system to Pakistan Railways. The schematic system will warn the train driver of any danger or hazard on the track beforehand.

Digital wireless transmission of video images of trains approaching and leaving a level crossing would help the driver and staff respond to any untoward situation timely.

RFID Based System

The Digital wireless system offered by the company is based on RFID Technology or Radiofrequency Identification System where RFID tags would be installed on level crossings and the receiver. This would keep the engine driver updated about the ground situation.

However, the concerned officers from signalling and electrical branch raised many questions relevant to its implementation in Pakistan Railways level crossings.

Automatic Train Protection

Automatic train protection (ATP) is an integral part of a recently installed computer based interlocking (CBI) system over Lodhran-Shahdara by Bombardier technology consortium over PR locomotives. ATP devices have been installed in 15 locomotives.

Another pilot project has been launched with the help of NESCOM for provision of audio visual warnings to road users (red and green with a bell) and the train driver while approaching a level crossing. All level crossings on ML-1 (Karachi to Peshawar) shall be eliminated by providing underpasses/flyovers under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Railway Accidents and Damage Statistics

According to the Railway Ministry’s data a total of 291 train accidents occurred from 2014 to October 2017, where 106 people were killed and over 450 injured. About 157 train accidents occurred at unmanned level crossings during this period. There are a total of 3,389 level crossings on the entire Railway system, including 1,514 manned and 1,875 unmanned level crossings.

A joint survey of vulnerable unmanned level crossing was conducted in collaboration with district government in 2013. As a result, 436 vulnerable and 75 most vulnerable unmanned level crossings were identified in Punjab, 45 and 30 in Sindh, 37 and 6 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 32 and 32 in Balochistan.

Railways, besides human casualties, suffered huge financial losses as well due to the unabated accidents. sustained damages worth Rs. 287.549 million during 2013-2016. During 2013, the Railways sustained damages of Rs. 1.63 million, Rs. 28.548 million in 2014, Rs. 158.538 million in 2015, whereas during 2016 it sustained damages of Rs. 98.83 million.