The Western suburban railway line connecting south Mumbai to the suburbs is believed to be one of the world’s busiest railway networks with about 900 mn passengers travelling annually. The WR connects Churchgate to Virar spanning a distance of 60 kms between the two ends of the city. Trains spaced at just three minutes interval between each other during peak hours tell the story of the amount of traffic WR handles each day.
"Currently 1,133 trains are running daily with average passenger traffic between the Churchgate – Virar track reaching 3.2 mn per day," says N V Joseph, Divisional Signal and Telecom engineer, Works – Train Management System (TMS), Western Railway.
Lack of overview leads to need for TMS
The major impediment in managing the traffic was a lack of overview about the number of trains running simultaneously at a particular point in time on various tracks. Western Railway then decided to set up a control centre with a Traffic Management System (TMS) for tracking each train running on the western suburban route (i.e. between Churchgate and Virar).
The TMS was set up with two main focus areas in mind. The first goal was to radically improve the punctuality of the train operations and the second was to display the correct train arrival time at all stations including the 'expected in x minutes' information via automatic announcements. Hitherto, this information was not available for commuters.
"Post the TMS implementation, the trains are tracked in real time. However, this was not possible earlier when the station master at every station had to inform about the train’s arrival/departure by making a telephonic call. Thus, the controller was also dependent on the station master for updates about the position of various trains," says Joseph.
In the earlier system, there was no accuracy attached to the arrival of trains at various stations. However, following the introduction of the TMS, the controller does not have to rely on the station master and can track all trains on the TMS screen. This results in smooth functioning of the trains without any obstacles as the controller can directly contact the station master, motormen etc via various communication channels in case a problem arises. The TMS tracks the movement of the trains, signal functioning, track conditions, diversions etc.
There are two section controllers responsible for the train movements respectively between the regions 'Churchgate and Andheri' and 'Andheri and Virar'. The deputy controller overviews both the section controllers.
Characteristics of TMS
The Central Traffic Controller (CTC) is an important component of the TMS. It has centralised the train diversion process, which was usually done using the Route Lay Interlocking system at important stations like Andheri, Mumbai Central, Dadar etc. Dadar and Goregaon stations were a part of the pilot project for CTC and after the successful roll out, both stations can be remotely managed from the control centre with a simple click of the mouse.
The TMS includes mobile communication equipment like cab radios that links the control centre to the guard and motormen. WR uses trunked mobile radio communication supported by Microwave control stations at Mahalaxmi and Borivali. The signals are picked up at these stations and transmitted to the control centre at Mumbai Central.
The mobile server at the control centre keeps a tab on the cab radio used by the motormen and the networking equipment that connects the peripherals, train services and the passenger information system.
The TMS, including the software, was bought from Bombardier Transportation. The hardware includes Alpha 1000A server and industrial-grade PCs. The display systems for the TMS have been provided by Belgium-based Marco American Display Systems. Networking is done via Network Database Control (NDB). The database used is Oracle while the Passenger Information System is based on Windows.
The controller cannot only monitor the train movements online but also communicate with the motormen in case of hold-ups. In case of any eventualities, assistance can be provided from the nearest station. Such continuous train monitoring has also improved the punctuality of train services. The controller can manage services during monsoon when trains are held up due to flooding. He can manage the trains section wise on the basis of the tracks available. Even during public agitations, the control room can be informed about the reason for the delay via mobile cab radios.
One major advantage of the TMS is that it has eased out the process of making timetables. Earlier, it was charted out manually; however, now it is software enabled by entering the train number. Train movements are now being logged in the server in the form of Management Information System (MIS). Previously, controllers used to make train movement charts manually. Additionally, punctuality reports, train servicing reports etc are also prepared smoothly post the TMS deployment.
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Updated Date: Feb 02, 2017 21:55:24 IST