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Understanding Kavach | What is this New Gen System?

What is this New Gen System? How this system will revolutionize the safety features of the Indian Railway System? Make in India Pioneer Program or a Critical Failure?

The story this far: On the night of 4th June after 51 hours of tireless service by the workers the track which lets trains go to the southern part of India was restored. This was the official tweet by Ashwini Vaishnav, the Minister of Indian Railways. The tweet also said the line connecting eastern and northern India was restored after two hours.

What is KAVACH?

Kavach is a new generation Make in India technology whose development started in the year 2012 by the Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO), Primarily this technology was known as Automatic Train Protection System whose trials were provided by the South Central Railway with the sole objective to make railway operations safer in India. This is a unique system which works automatically to protect a train from fatal collisions. The Safety Integrity Level - 4 (SIL-4) makes it the best in terms of safety provider. The way this works is brilliant as it prevents the trains from passing the signal when it is red. By doing so the train will not collide with another and accidents of this scale will be averted. Since this is an automatic system brakes are pulled all when the driver fails to bring the train under control. There will be no collision if two trains have the same system equipped in themselves. In cases of emergencies, the system also transmits SoS signals to call for immediate help. The final feature is that the train can be tracked live through the Network Monitor System. The level of accuracy in this train is so high that the chances of a train accident are only once in 10,000 years.

What are the features of Kavach?

Six salient features of Kavach works together to protect and prevent a train from falling prey to an unfortunate collision. These features are as follows -

● The brakes in the train will be triggered automatically if the driver does not pull it on time.

● The system works on a specific principle which constantly updates its movement to the Network Control System. Thus, the train is always under the watchful eyes of efficient railway officers who can know the exact location and speed of the train.

● The train signal system installed along the railway track that turns red and green relays a signal to the driver of the train. The signal is given to the driver on a display screen that is installed within the cab. This is a useful feature as it helps the driver to understand if he/she must go ahead or stop when the weather is foggy and the signal is not clear.

● The train will automatically whistle when it is closer to the level crossing gates (LC Gates).

● The system facilitates direct communication between two locomotives that are on the same track. This allows transparent communication and the minute chances of an accident are eliminated.

● The system is equipped with the facilities to transmit SoS signals to the nearest control panel in case an accident occurs.

These are the salient features of Kavach as stated in a press release issued by the Press Information Bureau.

Is Kavach a pioneer of railway safety or a Make in India gimmick?

The features that are given above demonstrate Kavach as a pioneer of railway safety but is it in reality? The Odisha accident makes this a farce to showcase the success of Make in India efforts. Nonetheless, many sectors have implemented their products under this scheme which are bought by some countries in South East Asia. The report that was submitted by the inquiry team of five members comprised of only senior officers said something shocking. The fault was all on the signaling system and none of the three trains had this state-of-the-art system installed on them. The report was two pages long and was drafted after the inquiry was conducted by the Senior Section Engineer A.K. Mahanta and his team on the spot of the accident. Primarily the report which was signed said that the Coromandel Express entered the loop line and crashed with the freight train stalled there. Later the section engineer backed out from certain claims to say that the data logger (similar to the black box of a flight) indicates signs of tampering. He says the switch which has the responsibility to change the direction of the train also known as Point 17 A was set for the track which takes a train to the southern side of our country. Thus, he means to say the two pages report which said the track was altered to the loop line where the freight train was stationed is false as it never happened.

The claim that he made next is quite shocking as he said Point 17 A was changed to the loop line after the accident had happened. This shows that the Senior Section Engineer of the Signaling and Communication Department in Balasore hints that it was a cover-up. All of these claims were made in a dissent note which was submitted to the senior officials of Indian Railway. The report claims something that contradicts the claim to cover up this accident. A.K Mahanta also says that there is a probability that the event which led to the derailment happened a little before the Coromandel Express reached the place where Point 17 A was installed. All these claims will be cleared after the Central Bureau of Investigation gives a proper report.

There are allegations from the opposition where they say such a speedy intervention of the CBI. Both Congress leaders and former government officers have indicated it is quite unusual to see this central investigating body launch a probe even before a proper investigation by the railway has not been conducted. The opposition party of Congress raises an allegation towards the government as they say CBI's rapid launch of a probe is an act of the government to cover the mistake they had made before the General Elections of 2024.

The true nature of the accident can be derived only after a thorough and unbiased investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The report will be drafted once the investigation is complete but there is only one question that persists in association with this accident. Was this an attempt by the Indian Government to divert the nation's focus from the wrestler's protest in Delhi to something bigger which in this case is a train accident that claimed the lives of at least 300 innocent souls?

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