Kavach is an indigenous automatic train protection (ATP) system developed by Indian Railways to enhance the safety and efficiency of train operations. It prevents trains from passing the red stop signal, overspeeding, or colliding with each other by controlling the speed and applying brakes automatically when necessary. It also assists the loco pilot in navigating through challenging weather conditions like dense fog by transmitting line-side signals to the train cab. Kavach is a cost-effective and reliable solution that has received Safety Integrity Level 4 (SIL-4) certification, ensuring a high level of safety with an extremely low probability of error.
How does Kavach System work?
Kavach system consists of a set of electronic devices and radio frequency identification devices installed in locomotives, tracks, railway signalling system and every station at a 1 km distance. The system currently communicates with its components via ultra-high radio frequencies while the development of 4G LTE based system is underway.
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Kavach alerts when a loco pilot jumps a signal (Signal Passed at Danger -SPAD), which is the leading cause of train collisions. The system can alert the loco pilot and take control of the brakes and bring train movement to a halt automatically when it notices another train on the same line within a prescribed distance. The device continuously monitors train movement and sends signals ahead to the locomotives, which is helpful during adverse weather conditions such as fog⁵. The system also facilitates direct communication between locomotives to prevent collisions and includes an SOS feature in case of accidents to bring the train under control.
What are the benefits of Kavach System?
- Kavach serves multiple purposes. It enhances the safety of trains by preventing accidents due to human error or technical failure. Kavach also improves the efficiency and capacity of train operations by reducing delays and increasing punctuality.
- It enables train operation during challenging weather conditions like dense fog, which otherwise would affect the visibility and safety of trains. It also reduces the maintenance cost and energy consumption of trains by optimizing the speed and braking.
- Kavach is a cost-effective solution that costs 50 lakh rupees per kilometre to operate compared to about two crore rupees worldwide. It is also an indigenous technology that showcases India’s self-reliance and innovation in railway engineering.
What is the status of Kavach implementation?
Kavach has been developed by Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in collaboration with three Indian vendors and has been adopted as the National ATP System for Indian Railways. Trials of Kavach have been conducted on various sections of South Central Railway zone since 2016 and have been successful in demonstrating its functionality and reliability. As part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, the goal is to implement Kavach on a network spanning 2,000 kilometers in the 2022-23 period.
This expansion will not only enhance safety and capacity but also create opportunities for exporting this indigenous technology to other railways around the world. The Union budget of India for the FY 2022-23 allocated fund for speedy implementation of Kavach system on 2000 km track, and sanctioned implementation on 34,000 km track of Golden Quadrilateral rail route which will be implemented by 2027-28. Currently, Kavach is implemented on 65 locomotives, 1445 km route and 134 stations in South Central Railway zone, while implementation on 1200 km is underway.