Aiming to enhance safety in train operations, Indian Railways will introduce a Mobile Train Radio Communication (MTRC) system on high-density routes at an estimated cost of Rs 9,000 crore ($1.5 billion).
MTRC will enable the locomotive pilots to talk to guards, control room supervisors and station masters from a running train.
The driver can alert the control room and station master about any unsafe condition such as crack, big stone or flooding of the track so that necessary steps can be taken to prevent any untoward incident, a senior Railway Ministry official said.
Currently, the driver communicates through a walkie talkie with the guard on a running train. He can alert the station master only after reaching the station and the station master in turn will relay the message to the control room for necessary action. As a result, precious time is lost before any corrective measures are taken.
The MTRC system will facilitate the train driver to pass on message from a running train to any concerned authorities about the route ahead and obstacles, if any.
The MTRC system, also known as Global System for Mobile Communications - Railway (GSM-R), provides a secured means of communication between train crew and control/maintenance staff and for carrying signalling information.
The railways is currently opertaionalising the MTRC on a 2,541 km-long route as a pilot project. It will be extended to about 20,000 km route covering all of the high-density rail network.
The official said the MTRC is required for enhancing safety and also speeding up the train as the driver does not depend upon the track-side signals.
A part of the railways' ongoing modernisation of signalling and telecom system plan, the MTRC system is operational in Europe. Empowering the driver to make emergency calls, MTRC entails construction of towers with antenna along the route to ensure secured communication between drivers and concerned staff during an emergency.
The MTRC system is considered a must in semi-high-speed and high-speed train networks.