GUWAHATI, Aug 5 - With a view to enhancing safety, the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has stepped up work on track maintenance, while also adopting some new technologies in trains and other facilities of the zone.
�In recent months we have given special focus on safety aspects, including on adoption of some totally new technologies and expanding the usage of others. The Railway Ministry nowadays places special emphasis on the safety angle and, accordingly, we have carried out projects with a view to complementing the efforts being made by the ministry and the Railway Board,� a senior NFR official said.
Major track maintenance and track improvement works have been undertaken to enhance safety of train operations. �Conditions of the rails on which the trains run and the foundation on which the rails are laid have to be sound for reasons of operational safety. The rails are laid on sleepers and the foundation is strengthened with small stones known as ballast. Therefore, the rails need to be constantly checked for fracture or other defects and also replaced periodically. Similarly, the quantity and quality of the ballast used are crucial. The ballast needs to be replaced or replenished and packed underneath the rails periodically. We are using modern track machines like Unimat-4S and RM80-92U for screening and packing of ballast,� said the official.
NFR plans to go for rail replacement of at least 380 km this year. �Ultra-Sound Fault Detection (USFD) testing had been used to detect fault in rails and several hundreds of welded rail joints have been checked in the last few months. We have carried out special drives to checks points and crossings at yards, including Guwahati and New Bongaigaon. Over 40 train-loads of ballast were added on railway tracks as part of replenishment exercise. Ballast cleaning machines have been used for deep screening of ballast to ensure longevity of tracks. In addition, track tamping and track stabilisation works have been carried out across many sections of the NFR,� added the official.
Regarding adoption of new technologies, �Automatic Computerised Axle Box Temperature Measurement� system has been installed at Kamakhya and New Bongaigaon stations. Plans are afoot to install such detectors at some other stations of the zone in coming months.
�It is a fully automated wayside detection system. It consists of data acquisition equipment deployed at the side of tracks which reads the temperatures of axle boxes and wheel treads or rims of passing trains, and the data acquired is analysed,� another official said.
It allows for detection and identification of axle boxes which are running hot due to some defects and wheels which may overheat due to brake-binding. �When such a situation arises, the system sounds an alarm which is dispatched by SMS alerts or some other means. The specifications read by the system are relayed to a computer server. Hot axle and brake-binding may occur due to various reasons and they could be dangerous. Timely detection of such defects is essential as they could even lead to derailment of trains. The newly installed system improves accuracy of the data,� added the official.
A few detections have already been made by the systems at Kamakhya and New Bongaigaon stations. NFR is now looking to install Automatic Computerised Axle Box Temperature Measurement systems at stations like New Guwahati and Lumding.
Among other new measures, automatic fire detection and suppression system has been fitted in most of the 180-odd power cars and pantry cars of NFR. It is capable of making early detection of smoke and fire.
The system can detect smoke particles of all sizes and has the ability to suppress the fire by ensuring automatic spraying of a foam-type mixture.
NFR has also installed thermal imaging cameras at all its workshops for scrutiny of passenger carrying coaches. The cameras can detect overheating of the cables, equipment and motor windings, besides loosening of cable sockets and improper insulation.