Today, Indian Railways signed a MoU with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) for using space technology for remote sensing and GIS (Graphics Information System) based applications.
The MoU will facilitate utilization of space technology to provide information about passengers to all trains, tracking of all trains in real time, indication of next stop/ next station and survey of fresh alignments of rail routes, especially in difficult and hilly terrains.
It will also help in asset mapping, conducting of studies of vulnerability of tracks, audio-visual systems of warning for road users at gates of unmanned level crossings and introducing web-enabled user-centric services.
At present, railways are already utilizing space technology to provide connectivity to counters of Passenger Reservation System (PRS) and unreserved ticketing system at non-rail head and remote locations.
Other than this, technology is utilized for emergency communication from disaster sites, GPS (Global Positioning System) for several applications such as remote monitoring of locomotives, information system for passengers in Mumbai suburban trains, synchronized clocks and provision of Wi-Fi in special Rajdhani trains.
At the function, minister of state for railways, Manoj Sinha made a request to ISRO to conduct a study for finding methods to enable smooth rail traffic, especially in the foggy season.
Mr. Sinha said that such a study should be conducted by ISRO to help trains run smoothly in fogging season, which will be a big accomplishment as usually railways comes to a stop during certain seasons.
At the occasion, railways minister Suresh Prabhu said that the tie-up between ISRO and Indian Railways was not a ‘mere marriage of convenience but a marriage of necessity’. Indian Railways would use the services of ISRO for several works related to up-gradation of technology like providing train time table.
According to the MoU, the Railway minister said that space technology tools will be used to provide passenger information system in every train, next stoppage of train, station and train tracking in real time.
The meeting featured senior officials of both ISRO and Indian Railways. Minister Suresh Prabhu said that signing of MoU with ISRO was of very vital importance as the latest technology from ISRO will be helpful to solve day to day problems faced by the Indian Railways.
He said that Indian Railways was a great organization, and it would do well to partner with another important organization, the ISRO. It was time for the Railways to adopt the latest technology, he said. The Railways was to be modernized with adoption of technological innovation.
Another minister, Dr. Jitendra Singh said that the MoU was a breakthrough for the ISRO to provide new technology to the Indian Railways. It was a misconception that ISRO’s activities are related to only the sector of space. For instance, it had helped the Ministry of Urban Development recently for developing smart cities.
He said that the ISRO could help not only in disaster management but also for normal, routine activities of the Indian Railways. Technology provided is cost effective as well as efficient and accurate.