Fogs in northern India are known for bringing cities and towns to a standstill when winter seeps in. This is also the time when the railway loco pilots have to be extra alert while navigating through clouded visibility.
In order to avoid delay owing to fogs and ensure trains stick to their timetable during winters, the Indian Railways is planning to incorporate GPS-enabled fog safety devices in trains to keep the pilots alert about approaching signals.
According to a railway official, over 2,400 devices have already been supplied by the national transporter in northern regions that are worst hit by extreme fogs during winter. Around 900 devices have been provided to the Delhi zone alone.
The Railways also intend to employ ‘fogmen’ who will fix detonators on tracks which will alert loco pilots about approaching signals.
Additionally, intensive night footplate inspection and track patrolling will be undertaken by railway authorities to detect cases of rail fracture, which is one of the major causes of derailment during winter.
The Railways also plan to provide sufficient walkie-talkie sets to the crew and station staff, convert the auto-signalling system to a semi-automatic mode, and impose speed restrictions when faced with intense fog situations.
Signal indication booklets are to be provided to loco pilots, who will be given special counselling sessions on working during fog.
With the onslaught of winter, the national transporter has to grapple with crises like slower mobility, shortage of crew due to longer working hours on a train, complete mishmash of timetable, non-availability of track maintenance slots and heavy crowding of waiting passengers.
With the implementation of the GPS-enabled devices, the Railways will be able to keep up with their schedule and avert accidents owing to fogs.