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Driverless metro crash a human error, experts say tech is a tested science

According to DMRC, the crash happened because of human error as a trial train moved from the workshop without testing the brake system that had been disabled

Shine Jacob  |  New Delhi 

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An empty metro train on trial run, breaks through boundary at Kalindi Kunj depot. | ANI

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to inaugurate Delhi Metro's magenta line, Tuesday’s incident of a train crashing into a wall at Kalindi Kunj metro station has now raised concerns about the safety of driverless trains and its technology. The line will be the first one to have in India. Experts, however, believe that the technology implemented by the Rail Corporation (DMRC) is one of the best in the world and the incident was not a technical but a human error. The route will be implementing Computer Based Train Control (CBTC) based signalling system, which compared to the conventional signalling has the ability to determine the location of a train independent of track circuits. “This is indeed a reliable and proven technology and we are doing it in many countries safely. The radio linked system will enhance the efficiency of DMRC,” said a senior official of a global railway equipment manufacturer. According to DMRC, Tuesday’s mishap occurred due to human error as a trial train moved from the workshop without testing the brake system that had been disabled. As a result of which, while the train was moving up the ramp for washing, it rolled back and hit the adjacent boundary wall. DMRC said that as per normal procedure prescribed when a train enters the workshop, the brakes of the train are decommissioned so that the train and its systems including the brakes can be freely checked. As per procedure, once the train is again re-commissioned, the brakes should have been tested by the maintenance staff in the depot before the train left the shed.

The train movement inside the workshop area is done manually and not by the signalling system. But this was not followed by the staff in Kalindi Kunj. “DMRC is planning to man it in its initial stage. This technology is completely safe, just that staff should be trained properly so that such errors do not occur in future. This is a globally recognised system and why should India be behind?,” asked V N Mathur, former member traffic of Indian Railways. Experts believe that the system is able to manage movement and time in between trains efficiently without human intervention, thus reducing room for error. The two upcoming lines of the — Mukundpur-Shiv Vihar and Janakpuri West-Botanical Garden--will have the new signalling system. According to reports, it was in September 2014 that DMRC had awarded the contract for implementing the new system on the Mukundpur-Shiv Vihar line to Bombardier Transportation.

First Published: Wed, December 20 2017. 14:35 IST
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