The Bangladesh Railway (BR) has planned to introduce an automatic train protection system (ATPS) to avoid any head-on collisions and maloperation, and to ensure safe train operations, officials said.
To introduce the ATPS, the BR is going to conduct a feasibility study at the estimated cost of Tk 8.44 crore between January 2021 and February 2022.
Under the project, consultants will select technology, and finalise specification and a detailed design, they said.
The ATPS is a type of train protection system, which can have several features, including continual check-ups on whether a train is being operated following the stipulated speed limit, and would stop a train automatically in case of overshooting of danger signal to avoid head on collision, officials said.
BR authorities yesterday held a meeting over the draft study proposal with BR Director General Md Shamsuzzaman in the chair. The meeting asked the officials concerned to make some changes in the study proposal before sending it to the Planning Commission for the final approval.
Around 90 percent of the BR railway tracks are single lined, which is more prone to accidents, especially head-on collision. The reason, more often than not, is human interference that can cause fatalities and destruction of properties, BR officials said.
The issue of the ATPS introduction has long been in discussion and the matter came to the fore again after a fatal train accident in Brahmanbaria last year.
The Dhaka-bound Turna Nishita rammed Chattogram-bound Udayan Express at Mandobagh Railway Station in Kasba early on November 12, 2019, that left 17 passengers dead and many others injured.
Probe committees found negligence of the driver, his assistant and the guard of Turna Nishita Express was responsible for the fatal accident.
In their reports, probe committees recommended the introduction an "Automatic Train Stop" system to avoid any head-on collision between two trains.
Jahangir Hossain, the project director of construction of Khulna-Mongla Port Rail Line, has prepared the draft study proposal titled "feasibility study, technology selection, specification finalization and detail design of Automatic Train Protection System for Bangladesh Railway".
Speaking to The Daily Star yesterday, Jahangir said developed counties like the US, Japan and European countries have already introduced ATPS and India also introduced it recently.
Once the system is introduced, a train would be automatically stopped if it overshoots danger or red signal due to failure of designated staffers, and thus head on collisions can be avoided, he said.
He said under the study, consultants would determine the best possible suited ATPS in the BR and design it through the existing signal system and according to the fleet of locomotives.
At the initial state, they have chosen the Joydebpur-Iswardi duel-gauge double line section, which is supposed to be developed between January 2019 to December 2024, to introduce the ATPS first and the same would be deployed all over the BR networks in phases, he said.
"However, the selection of the first rail line for ATPS's use would be determined following consultant's suggestion," he added.
The BR has a service network of a 3,018 kilometres route and five types of signalling system are followed here.
Replying to a question, Jahangir, who is an official of the signalling and telecommunication wing of BR, said the ATPS can be used as a computer-based interlocking system.
Till June 2019, there were 112, out of 353 signalling stations, followed computer based interlocking system, according to the BR's Information Book-2019.
Asked when the system can be introduced, Jahangir said it would take some time because the study has to be completed first.
BR Director General Md Shamsuzzaman could not be reached over phone to comment in this regard.