Satellite device will keep Trains on track

India: This year Railways will be able to run seamlessly through dense fog with the help of signals from the sky, literally.

A Geographical Positioning System, or GPS, device will connect trains with a satellite orbiting the earth and tell drivers about foggy conditions ahead and direct their actions accordingly .

The "Fog Safe Tech Device" is a high-tech kit of an antenna, a monitor and a few consoles installed at the train's engine. It shows in the monitor visibility conditions up to four kilometres ahead. Moreover, it also alerts about obstructions on the track.

"This device lets a driver know what lies ahead even if he cannot sight them. There is also a gauge, which shows the level of visibility and the position of the tracks. Therefore, trains can run even in zero-visibility," said a Northern Railway spokesman.

For Railways this is a quantum leap, considering that until last year, drivers used to rely on small explosives called detonators to explode ahead to know that visibility is poor. This decades-old technology had guards walking into fog and placing these small detonators on the tracks.

Northern Railways has around 3 lakh detonators procured from the Ordnance Factory .

Developed jointly by the signal department of Northern Railways and a Delhi-based technology firm, Torren Microsystems, the GPS system also shows the status of signal on the tracks to guide drivers.

An antenna attached outside the engine catches the waves beamed by the satellite and decodes it on the display into meaningful information. Officials are terming it as the "ultimate answer to poor visibility conditions".

"Not just fog, but any kind of obstruction on the track can now be detected," the official said.

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