New Delhi: The past track record of the Railways on the safety front has been dismal. Even though there have been major accidents claiming several lives, the Railways are yet to install anti-collision devices (ACDs) in trains to prevent train mishaps.

Vested interests of the people in power have been blamed for the delay in the installation of anti-collision devices announced 12 years back.

Notably, the Railways have failed to come up with a robust and reliable safety system despite carrying out field trials of the anti-collision devices (ACDs) since 2001.

The ACD is mainly an electrical anti-collision system which prevents trains from jumping red signals. The officials related to electrical and signal-telecom departments have a significant role in the commissioning, purchase and trial of these devices.

The Railway Board Member (Electrical) is the man who finalizes the vigilance clearance and gives the nod for commissioning of any new signal system and device related to the technology in the Railways. Even the Railway Minister cannot take the decision without his consent.

But at the same time, it’s not necessary that Railway Board Chairman agrees with Member (Electrical) over installation of devices. The purchase of ACD is not possible until both the Chairman and Member (Electrical) agree on it.

The Research, Design and Standards Organization (RDSO) then gives the eligibility certificate to the new system. Since the tenders of the ACDs are worth several crores, the top brass of the Railways have their eyes set for the same.

At present, several signal systems including Auxiliary Warning System (AWS), Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and Train Presentation and Warning System (TPWS) are prevalent across the world. Since these systems and devices are expensive following their foreign technology, the Konkan Railway had indigenously developed ACD at the cost of Rs 25, 000 in 2000.

This indigenously developed and patented ACD was successfully installed in North East Frontier Railway as per the orders of then railway minister Mamata Banerjee. Soon after Mamata’s exit, the new officers refused to install the ACDs citing technical glitch.

Earlier, the Railway Board officials were conducting the trial of AWS in Delhi-Mathura section but the plan fell flat. Following which, the officials decided to install another device TPWS. It was noted that TPWS project started in the North Central Railway could not been completed despite an expenditure of Rs 41 crore.

Now, the TCAS is being claimed to an effective anti-collision device. It remains to be seen if the decision makers give their consent to it.