GUWAHATI, Nov 25 - To help in timely running of trains during the foggy winter season, a GPS-based alert system for benefit of train loco pilots has been put to use by the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).
�An equipment called Fog Pilot Assistance System for Safety (FogPASS), consisting of an inbuilt battery and GPS antenna with magnetic base, has been provided in all locomotives in the zone. The device, which weighs 1.5 kg, is carried by the loco pilot at the time of assuming charge of the locomotive,� said Subhanan Chanda, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of NFR.
The equipment is placed on the consul of the pilot and as the train moves it displays short description and remaining distance of next two landmarks in geographical order on LCD screen.
�Landmarks include signals of various types and level crossing gates, among other things. This means that as a train approaches a station the device will flash the distance left for the home signal of that station. Thus, even if the pilot is unable to physically see the signal, he would be aware of how far the train is from the signal and would be alert to notice the aspect of the signal (red, green or yellow) and act accordingly,� said Chanda.
There is also provision of voice announcement in speakers attached with the device for attention of loco pilots.
Chanda said that the new device has proved to be greatly helpful to loco pilots in foggy weather.
�In NFR zone, this device has been provided in crew lobbies to cover all locomotives of Mail, Express, Passenger and Goods trains. Loco pilots carry this device while assuming their duty. Railways have also provided sufficient walkie-talkie sets for use by loco pilots and station staff apart from arranging counselling on working during foggy weather,� said Chanda.
He added that NFR has also deployed �fog signalmen� at vulnerable sections to place detonators on the tracks for alerting the loco pilots about approaching signals.
These detonators are placed on track about 270-280 metres ahead of the first stop signal of a station to alert loco pilots in foggy weather conditions.
�All signal sighting boards and fog signal posts are being painted with retro reflective painting and level crossing gates are being provided with yellow and black luminous indications strips,� said the NFR CPRO.
He said that during intense foggy weather, the Railways normally faces the problem of shortage of crew resulting from longer working hours caused by slower mobility, nonavailability of track maintenance slots due to reduced capacity, apart from complete disorientation of timetable.
�So, the new GPS-based system named FogPASS is proving to be a boon to speed up train operation in intense fog,� Chanda said.