The Southern Railway will install the Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) on the Beach-Arakkonam section near Chennai. The project will involve, among other things, installation of track-side equipment in the form of Line-side Electronic Units, interfacing them with balises or electronic beacons fitted on the tracks, and interlinking of about 400 signals. This is the first time that TPWS, which is based on the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS-Level 1)) technology, is being installed outside Europe. The system gives additional safety to the signalling system while at the same time allows fast operations of trains.
The drivers are warned of impending obstructions by a signalling loop created by the system which also regulates the speed of the trains and activates emergency brakes when the driver overshoots a signal. Once a train passes by a signal, the track-side balise devices which are connected to the train’s on-board computer console, use electromagnetic induction to change the signal light from green to red. The system enables higher running speeds of trains due to the fact that drivers can now just slow down to stipulated speeds at signals without stopping completely. In case the driver overshoots the speed limit, the emergency brakes get activated and stop the train automatically.
But the railways plan to conduct extensive tests before the system is inducted into the day-to-day operations, especially to avoid the troubles of high levels of electromagnetic interference that the system encountered during its trial run on the Madras Beach-Gummidipoondi EMU sector. The Railways is also working on a scaled down version of the system which could be implemented throughout the country.