Local trains could be soon available at an interval of every two to three minutes in the coming years, now that the Union Cabinet has approved the allotment of 5 MHz spectrum in the premium 700 MHz band to the Indian Railways on Tuesday.
This is because the Cab Based communication system will be fitted inside trains and locomotives. Under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-3A, such a cab based communication has been planned under the Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) system on both Central and Western Railways at a cost of Rs 5,928 crore. The CBTC is a technology that eliminates the signal poles along the tracks as it enables the signalling system inside the trains itself. The technology will help in faster movement of trains and reduce its headway between two trains.
This will help reduce headway from average 4 minutes to 2 minutes. “We will be deploying a Modern Cab Based Signaling System with Automatic Train Protection that will increase safety and throughout in train operations,” said Sanjeev Mittal, Member Infrastructure, Railway Board. The CBTC has been planned on corridors of CSMT-Panvel, CSMT-Kalyan and Churchgate-Virar at cost of Rs 1,391 crore, Rs 2,166 crore and Rs 2,371 crore, respectively. Currently, signal systems are fitted on tracks that send signals to the poles. Whenever a train passes, the signal flashes red, yellow, double yellow and green, depending on the distance of the train. Once CBTC is installed, the motormen and drivers will be able to know about the next signal aspect sooner as it is fitted inside the locomotive and train itself. “Earlier we were looking at using WiFi for this Communication based system as spectrum was for commercial use. Now that the Railways have the spectrum, we now have the option of either choosing WiFi or Spectrum,” said a railway official here.
The railways will introduce LTE-based Mobile Train Radio Communication (MTRC) on its routes. This will also improve WiFi at stations, inside trains, communication systems at railway stations and trains and also improves security with high end CCTVs. The Indian Railways has envisaged an investment plan of Rs 56,955 crore in modernization and over hauling of signal and communications in next 5 years through various forms of systems.
The spectrum charges will be levied based on formula as prescribed by Department of Telecommunications for Royalty Charges and License Fee for captive use as recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).