IIT Kharagpur's innovative way to combat train collisions
Train journeys could soon be safer as IIT Kharagpur scientists have successfully tested a new tool for an electronic railway interlocking system which prevents trains from colliding with each other.
The tool suite is developed by the Computer Science and Engineering Department of the institute in collaboration with Research, Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) and the Service Improvement Group (SIG) of the Indian Railways.
Prof Pallab Dasgupta, lead researcher of the project, said since errors in the application logic of interlocking systems may have catastrophic consequences, this development has potential to minimise the chance of such errors.
In the proposed approach, the yard layout is used as a reference for automatically generating a list of safety properties, which are then proven on the application logic using back-end model checking tools. The generation of the formal properties is specifically tailored to the combination of relays used in that yard, he said.
The tool has already been successfully tested in several railway yards, Dasgupta claimed.
The Indian Institute of Technology researchers said this project has the potential to be further extended to study and develop optimum traffic operation plans and alternative plans for emergencies. The Indian Railways, through RDSO, has awarded 12 research projects to IIT Kharagpur's Centre for Railway Research in the area of analysis and design of rolling stock, infrastructure, operations and maintenance.
Several of the products and technologies are being field tested at various Indian Railways facilities apart from lab testing at IIT Kharagpur. The next step would be to further develop the products and technologies with an industrial partner for production, the experts said.
Explaining the technology, Dasgupta said they have leveraged analytical tools used for verification of VLSI (very-large-scale-integration) circuits to develop formal verification logic for railway interlocking systems. Railway interlocking is a critical signalling system that prevents trains from conflicting movements by only allowing one train to take a particular route which has been locked for it.