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On its own: How metro is signalling change

On its own: How metro is signalling change

In Ph-IV, DMRC Wants To End Reliance On Foreign Companies With Made-In-India System To Run Daily Ops

New Delhi:

The upcoming Phase-IV of Delhi Metro is likely to mark a first for the country — a made-in-India signalling system. Currently, Delhi Metro and other networks in the country depend on foreign manufacturers for, arguably, what is the most critical component of operations.

From South Korean trains to expat engineers, DMRC depended heavily on foreign technology and know-how when it started its journey. Over the years, it has gained expertise in running the metro and most components of the system are now made in India. However, it is still heavily dependent on foreign companies, such as Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens, when it comes to the signalling system. To become self-reliant and also help other metros in the country, DMRC will develop its own signalling system, in collaboration with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and Bharat Electronics (BEL). The research and development for the first made-in-India metro signalling system is expected to begin soon.

“The signalling system is the lifeblood of metro operations. From running and stopping the trains, applying brakes in case of an emergency to making public announcements at stations and trains, every aspect of operations is dependent on the signalling system, which is controlled from an Operations Control Centre,” a DMRC official said.

“DMRC has taken the lead in developing a signalling system. Till now, all Indian metro systems depend on international players for signalling and these companies have proprietary rights,” DMRC managing director Mangu Singh told TOI in a recent interview. “Now, the government has agreed that an indigenous signalling system is required to be developed so that we do not remain dependant on these proprietary software,” Singh said.

“DMRC is now very actively developing this signalling system with the help of C-DAC and BEL,” Singh said, adding that DMRC hopes that the system will be ready in two to three years. “If possible, Phase-IV will have our own signalling system and, then, the entire country will benefit from it,” Singh said.

Singh said DMRC and other metros in the country were heavily dependent on foreign manufacturers at the moment and, for every small problem or snag, the foreign companies had to be contacted. For instance, a snag in the signalling system of Blue Line in December last year had meant that the log of the erratic software behaviour had to be sent to the Germany-based headquarters of the manufacturer, Siemens. “If the signalling system is developed indigenously, we won’t face such problems,” Singh said.

“To make even a little change in the system, you have to go to them. It’s basically a business tactic where they build proprietary software and somebody else’s item doesn’t fit into it,” Singh said, adding that even if one station has to be added to a corridor, DMRC has to reach out to the foreign company for extending the signalling system.