What is train ‘Kavach’ and why is it trending after the Odisha train accident?

Tags: National Science and Technology

Kavach initiative

The Odisha triple-train accident, which resulted in 290 deaths and 1,175 injuries, brought into focus the Kavach initiative that aims to make the Indian Railways safer.

An overview of the news

  • The Kavach system has not yet started on the Odisha route.

  • Railways confirmed that no 'Kavach' system has been installed in the trains to prevent them from colliding with each other.

  • The government is being severely criticized for neglecting railway safety.

Coverage of Kavach

  • To prevent incidents of accidents, the government announced in 2022 that it would launch a new avatar of Kavach on a trial basis, initially covering a distance of 2,000 kilometers and then expanding the coverage further.

  • Only 1,455 km of railway routes under South Central Railway have been brought under Kavach by January 2023.

  • The government plans to expand it from 4,000 to 5,000 km in FY24.

  • For reference, Indian Railways has a total route coverage of around 1.03 lakh km.

  • A little over 1% of the route of the Indian Railways is protected by Kavach as of now.

What is Kavach?

  • Kavach is an indigenous Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system. 

  • It was developed by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), an Indian Railways department, way back in 2002.

  • The Kavach system is designed to prevent collisions of trains – a leading cause of railway accidents in India.

  • It is a set of electronic devices and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices installed in locomotives, in the signalling system as well as the tracks.

  • They communicate with each other using ultra high radio frequency to control the brakes of the trains and also alert the drivers.

  • While there have been 58 railway accidents in the last 10 years, the Odisha accident is the deadliest.

  • This protection system is aimed at avoiding accidents arising out of driver-related or technical errors, as well as aid drivers (loco pilots) in running the trains safely even in inclement weather conditions.

  • It activates the train braking system automatically if the driver fails to control the train as per the speed restrictions. 

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