Wednesday, July 22, 2015



Itarsi: The new Route Relay Interlocking (RRI) panel at Itarsi Railway Station in Madhya Pradesh has started functioning at 14:50 hrs on 21.07.2015. As a result of the functioning of the new RRI, train movement via Itarsi is now becoming normal which was badly disrupted for the last 34 days. However, very few trains will still remain cancelled for next 2 – 3 days due to rake imbalance on account of sudden cancellation of trains. Only 15 trains will be cancelled on 22nd July 2015 and only 11 trains will be cancelled on 23rd July 2015.

Itarsi is a critical 4 directional junction station/yard, in Bhopal Division of West Central Railway. Itarsi situated strategically in the central part of India linking North-South and East-West parts of India through trains. Itarsi is the critical junction station on Bombay-Bhopal, Bhopal-Nagpur and Bombay-Jabalpur-Allahabad route.

It may be recalled that on 17.06.2015, an incidence of major fire occurred at the Route Relay Interlocking (RRI) Panel at Itarsi station fully destroying the existing RRI installation. Signalling Relay Room system is a system by which all the signals and the points/crossings which are used for changing of routes at junction station are operated centrally from a cabin through electrical devices. As a result, complete automatic train operation at Itarsi Station was disrupted leading to severe detention to trains passing across Itarsi Station.

As per normal schedule, about 145 scheduled Mail Express and Passenger trains and 50-60 freight trains are dealt with at Itarsi station in UP and DN directions. The destruction of RRI immediately resulted in much reduced running of only 35 trains per day via Itarsi through manual operation, However within 3 days time, Railway Engineers and Technicians worked round the clock and a temporary panel was installed which enabled handling of 110-120 trains per day in place of 35 trains per day with manual operation. This, although an interim arrangement, provided substantial relief to train operations. There was long detention to trains as the route for all passing trains had to be manually set and verified for safe passage at Itarsi yard. This resulted in 50% reduction in train handling capacity at Itarsi.

The situation warranted cancellation/diversion/short termination of trains for smooth and safe operations. Consequently, trains had to be cancelled due to operational and safety constraints.

Summary of the train services cancelled, diverted and short terminated from 17.6.2015 to 21.07.2015 is given below:
Number of Scheduled Trains viz. Itarsi: 5016 Trains
Number of Cancelled Trains: 2404
Short Terminated Trains: 17
Trains Diverted: 259



Indian Railways took a decision to stall a new RRI panel room and started work on a war footing deploying a substantial number of officers and staff. . For this very complex, giant and high-tech task, teams of competent officers and staff from the West Central Railway, as well as from other zonal railways were mobilized at lightning speed to enable round the clock working across full spectrum of activities.

At one point of time there were as many as 1000 officers, supervisors, technicians and the other staff working for the commissioning of the RRI round the clock. With as many activities in parallel, as possible, to squeeze the time frame to minimum, the target date for commissioning of new RRI was fixed as 23/7/15. And, WCR has succeeded in commissioning it two days earlier i.e. on 21/7/15.

The work was supervised and monitored intensely at Railway Board level, Zonal Railway (WCR) level, Division (Bhopal) level.The Railway Minister Shri. Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu personally monitored and sought regular reports about the progress of the work. Senior Railway Board officials from Delhi visited Itarsi to supervise the work. GM, WCR and DRM Bhopal had to personally camp at the site to ensure expeditious completion of this work.

New RRI incorporates important yard remodelling which will further eases the flow of traffic and flexibility in yard operations and handling of trains with 24 coaches. Multi Section Digital Axle Counters will increase the system availability during monsoon season. Fire alarm system has been provided and fire suppression system is being planned to avoid such fire incidences in future.

The mammoth installation of this new RRI system consists of 700Km of underground cables, 108 points, 78 (Main-42 & Shunt-36) signals, 144 detection points of digital axle counters forming 89 track sections, 32 track circuits, 9000 relays, 60000 jumpers of length more than 200Km and more that 2 lakh wire connections.

After completion of physical work, testing of such an installation was a challenge and a critical path for its commissioning. Due to safety considerations, the testing was to be comprehensive. Any small error in connection could become a potential safety threat; hence, there was no choice but to do comprehensive testing even during such challenging situations of time shortage. This challenge was met by employing the best human resource at all levels round the clock, carrying many activities simultaneously and very close monitoring at several levels.

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