CRIS Hopes to Integrate GPS Tracking Devices in Mumbai Trains By 2013

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Mumbai, India becomes the next big city to discuss GPS tracking of their commuter trains, setting the goal of possible fleet-wide installation by 2013. This will help passengers better use the world’s fourth largest network of railways, although the plan is still merely a topic of debate for officials.

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) worked together to come up with a report detailing a GPS tracking solution with the hope of making future rail travel easier and more convenient for passengers. The GPS tracking system they are considering will provide precise location information for each train, accurate to 10 meters with a latency of 2 minutes, as real-time as possible.

CRIS plans to integrate the GPS app available to passengers to check a train’s status with Google maps in order to allow passengers the most accurate location data possible. If the system is successful, train scheduling becomes more streamlined, and the need to confirm multiple times is reduced significantly.

If this plan were to move forward, it would be an amazing system for not only passengers, but railway officials as well. Head-on collisions could be more easily prevented which would save many lives. The idea is the train would be alerted to apply the brakes when officials notice a collision is imminent. “The braking distance of passenger trains is about 1 km, while for freight trains it is about 1.4 kms,” details the report. We may not have problems like this here in the United States, but current stats from India for this year so far shows roughly 22 people have died in a train accident. Last year, 122 people lost their lives. The report itself demonstrates the need for safety: “According to reports, in the last four years, around 15 percent of rail accidents took place in India.”

The GPS tracking system, if approved, will be placed in an estimated 100 trains, and will cost CRIS approximately Rs 70,000-1,000,000 per train (about $1,372-19,600 USD.) Officials are focusing on the accident figures, hoping this will convince those opposed to the plan to change their minds. Other Indian railways have successfully used GPS tracking devices, and officials involved in Mumbai’s talks know that the success of this pilot program (the Chennai and Tambaram railway) which demonstrates the successful scheduling of 364 train services, will help equip all of India’s trains in the long-run.

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Khristen Foss

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