The concept of Atmanirbhar Bharat, which means self-reliant India, is gradually becoming a part of the Indian mindset and is evident in various fields such as Defence, Aerospace, Military technology, Electronics, Railways, Telecom, and many others. India aims to manufacture everything locally. One such development is the sophisticated European Automatic Train Control System (ETCS), designed and developed to meet India’s critically complex requirements. This article provides a brief overview of ETCS technology and explains how it can benefit the Indian Railways.
India boasts of a complex railway network that spans across the country. In addition to intercity trains, suburban trains in three major cities – Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata transport millions (crores) of people safely to their destinations daily. The automatic train control system, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of every passenger, is like the brain of this vast network. It takes a genius to comprehend the intricacies of operating such a railway network, and equally competent individuals to design and develop an automatic train control system that can effectively manage this complex system. By designing such a system, Indians proved their mettle.
What is the European Automatic Train Control & signaling System (ETCS)?
ETCS is Rail safety standards specification
The European Union has established the European Automatic Train Control System (ETCS) standards to ensure consistent safety standards are implemented across the EU, regardless of the railway service provider. The ETCS train protection system can replace incompatible systems used by European and non-European railways. This makes it easier to monitor, track, and control train movements.
The ETCS framework is comprised of two major components.
- On-board (on train) equipment.
- Trackside equipment.
In the ETCS framework, the system can enable trackside information transmitted to the driver cab, eliminating the need for trackside signals. The trackside equipment is designed to communicate with the train for safe supervision of train movements. The information exchanged between the track and the trains can be either continuous or intermittent, depending on the ERTMS/ETCS level of application and the type of information being transmitted.
ETCS standards have three levels
ETCS standards have three levels, with level 1 and level 2 already in use in a few European cities for some time now. In technical terms, level 1 is basic, level 2 is intermediate, and level 3 is advanced.
ETCS Level 3 specs incorporate fully radio-based systems without any trackside equipment. The control system can determine in real time the speed, exact position, and direction of trains. Level 3 system is used only in India that too in the Namo Bharath trains. Nowhere this high-level safety system is used currently.
ETCS Level 3 specs use LTE for data and voice communication
Several companies have created Automatic train control and signaling systems using the ETCS standards, including ALSTOM. Alstom employed Indian designers and professionals to develop the Level 3 ETCS Automatic Train Control and Protection system that was incorporated in the newly launched Namo Bharath trains.
Alstom’s ETCS L3 system is designed to enhance train safety while also improving interoperability, reducing wait times, and increasing efficiency. In the future, the system will be upgraded with Automatic Train Operation (ATO) over Long Term Evolution (LTE) to enhance network performance and capacity further.
What is Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology?
The Long-term evolution (LTE) is a standard for wireless broadband communication for mobile devices and data terminals, based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA standards. It enables fast “to and from” data relay between the terminals, possible. LTE tech is extensively used in our day-to-day life through our mobile phones. Voice over LTE or VoLTE is popular among 4G phones. To learn more about LTE technology, you may visit this Site
Data and voice communication protocol
The LTE standard is utilized for exchanging data between track equipment and trains. It enables train drivers to know the precise position of the train in real time. Additionally, it provides the drivers with a vision of up to 100 km ahead on the track, allowing them to take the necessary actions if required. The control room can see the movements of trains on a real-time basis. On the other hand, the Voice over LTE (VoLTE) standards are used for voice communication between the control room and the train.
The debut of the world’s most advanced train control and signaling system through Namo Bharat trains
Alstom India is introducing the European Automatic Train Control System (ETCS) Level 3 signaling in the world through Namo Bharat trains. For the utmost safety of passengers, the system is integrated with Platform Screen Doors and uses Long Term Evolution (LTE) communication with NaMo Bharat.
Automatic Train Protection (ATP), Traffic Management System (TMS)
One of the key features of this technology is not only interoperability but also optimizing the use of existing infrastructure, reducing waiting time for passengers. The system provides a high level of safety for trains running at a close headway of 180 seconds by implementing a virtual block (hybrid level 3) to ensure continuous and safe separation, eliminating accidents due to human error. Additionally, this service includes Automatic Train Protection (ATP), Traffic Management System (TMS), and Platform Screen Door (PSD) sub-systems using Long Term Evolution (LTE) communication between the trackside and the train.
Namo Bhrat trains – A one-of-its-kind ‘Make in India’ marvel.
These trains were designed at Alstom’s engineering center in Hyderabad and are manufactured at Savli in Gujarat. They are perfectly aligned with the Indian government’s Make-in-India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat ambitions. The rolling stock is based on Alstom’s Adessia commuter train family, which incorporates worldwide experience. The propulsion systems and electrical components are manufactured at the company’s factory in Maneja, Gujarat.
Eco-friendly and energy-efficient trains
The NaMo Bharat will have a crucial role in promoting balanced and sustainable economic development in the region. With its modern and eco-friendly design, it will incorporate energy-saving technologies such as reliable bogies, efficient propulsion systems, and regenerative braking, resulting in significant efficiencies. The advanced car body design will further enhance its eco-friendliness.
The integration of ETCS Level 3 technology over LTE networks in India marks a significant milestone in the country’s railway modernization efforts. This integration promises to revolutionize the way Indian railways operate, offering improved safety, increased capacity, and reduced infrastructure costs. Soon, passengers and cargo transporters can expect safer, more efficient, and technologically advanced rail transportation across India’s vast expanse. PM Modi’s Namo Bharat train inauguration video is Here