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Hyd firm develops satellite-based tracking system for railways

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Pilot project being executed on trains on the Chennai section likely to complete soon.

The may move to a satellite-based tracking system to get accurate realtime information of the movement of trains from next year as a pilot project, which is being executed on trains on the Chennai section, is expected to complete in a couple of months from now.

“We will commence installation of (MSS) system from next week covering 107 locomotives that run on the Chennai section. The installation and integration of the system will be completed by February next year,” P Bala Bhaskar Rao, vice president (Operations) of Hyderabad-based Avantel Limited, told Business Standard.

Avantel has developed India’s first certified indigenous MSS system for defence and aerospace applications and is delivering the first unit of 12 systems including four spare systems to Boeing Company on Monday under a contract worth about $2.2 million. These MSS systems would be fitted on eight P-8I Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft supplied by the American aircraft company to Indian defence forces.

The MSS system for the P-81 was produced in compliance with Boeing aerospace and Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA) standards and has been qualified by the Center for Military Airworthiness & Certification (Cemilac), according to the company.

The technology involved in the system is the same for the aircraft and Indian Railways, said Rao. The Railways is planning to implement the MSS-based tracking system all over the country once its efficacy is demonstrated through the pilot project.

The Railways has already opened the first phase of Real Train Information System based on Satellite Imaging for rail navigation, which has been jointly developed by Research Design and Standards Organisation and IIT Kanpur. Though the locomotives are fitted with GPS equipment, the system, however runs on Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication technology, that is used in mobile phones.

According to Rao, GSM has coverage issues unlike satellite-based system such as MSS.

At present, tracking of trains is being generated manually from station to station, which sometimes gives way to human errors leading to accidents and other operational problems.

With the new system, the movement and location of each train will be tracked on a realtime basis. “Once the system is in place several value-added services such as providing passengers with accurate information on train arrival time etc will be developed around it,” Rao said.

Apart from this, Avantel has also developed ultra high frequency (UHF) communication systems and products, which the company would be delivering to Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) under a Rs 25-crore contract in the next six months.

The MSS system developed for Indian defence applications from various platforms, such as ground-based vehicles, ships, submarines, torpedoes and aircraft, is already in use on Indian Navy warships and Cost Guard vessels.

Avantel, which was founded in 1995, had started initially developing Type-C terminals for one-way messaging following a technology transfer agreement with in 2000.

The BSE-listed company registered a turnover of Rs 24.5 crore in 2010-11 and expects Rs 26 crore revenues for the current year. Its share closed marginally up at Rs 58.25 on Friday while its 52-month high/low price stood at Rs 69.5 and Rs 41 respectively.

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