Southern Railway, a unit of Indian Rail, has revealed plans to extend the train protection warning system (TPWS) currently installed in the Madras Beach-Central-Gummidipoondi EMU line to the 68km Beach-Arakkonam section.

The tendering process is underway for the $5m project, which is intended to prevent train accidents. Under the project, 400 signals on the Beach-Arakkonam route will be linked up, all of which will interface with electronic beacons installed on the track.

The TPWS system will be based on European rail traffic management system (ERTMS-Level 1) technology that will create a signalling loop to warn train drivers about the obstacles ahead, as well as control the speed in case of emergency. The system will also activate the train braking system automatically if the driver fails to notice the warning signs, and help regulate speed if a train is travelling too fast on the approach to certain speed restrictions, according to The Hindu.

Southern Railway is currently testing the technology to make it suitable for Indian conditions and is planning to put in place a much better integrated signal system shortly.

As with the track system in European countries, the rail authorities are planning to extend the system to other lines to avoid collisions. The technology has also been successful on the 48km Madras Beach-Gummidipoondi EMU section since 2008.

TPWS primarily offers additional safety in a fully automatic signal circuit and comprises on-board computer consoles or the Driver-Machine Interface. The system will be connected to wireless track-side balise devices that employ electromagnetic induction and can change the traffic light from green to red if a train is crossing a signal or is speeding.

A standard TPWS facilitates trains to run at maximum permitted speeds, and allows EMU drivers to slow down and run at safe speed levels.

Indian Railway has also commissioned its arm RITES to develop a more basic TPWS in order to expand the system to a wider level in the future and thus ensure safety of passengers.