Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chandigarh, August 28
Serious shortcomings have been revealed in the signalling system of the Indian Railways (IR), with old equipment, standardisation, monitoring and maintenance being the weak spots. Signalling systems play a key role in enhancing safe and reliable train operations and ensuring optimum use of existing line capacity.


Key performance indicators, known in railway parlance as signal incidence per thousand (SIPT), were found to be within tolerance limit in only six out of the 16 zonal railways that the IR is divided into, Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) latest report tabled a few days ago has revealed. Further, the basic units assigned to signal and telecom equipment for calculation of SIPT had not been revised for four decades.
The data collected for different signalling equipment indicating mean time between failures (MTBF) and mean time to repair (MTTR) showed wide variations across Zonal Railways as well as the same brand/make. No standard norms for monitoring down time and response time were prescribed for assessing the performance of the equipment.
CAG also observed that dissimilar signalling systems existed on 26 sections with more than 100 per cent line capacity utilisation, resulting in slower signal communications and movement of traffic.
While the overall progress in upgrading systems vis-à-vis targets under the corporate safety plan was satisfactory, in some Zonal Railways more than one-third of the targets were yet to be achieved.
In 32 ‘A’ route stations, CAG found that 64 signalling equipments out of 93 were dated and overdue for replacement. Majority of the equipment was over 10 years old. Replacement of old and ageing assets through upgraded modern signalling system is essential for achieving the goal of a collision free system.
There was also substantial shortfall in adhering to the maintenance schedules in test checked stations. Out of 179 stations checked, shortfall in adherence was observed in 109 stations. The shortfall in conducting maintenance schedules was at all levels, including mechanical signal maintainer, senior section engineer and junior engineer.
Key shortcomings
Dissimilar signalling systems existed on 26 sections with over 100% line capacity utilisation
This resulted in slower signal communications and movement of traffic
64 signalling equipments out of 93 were dated and overdue for replacement
A majority of the equipment was over 10 years old

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