Combining Two Giants: Indian Railways & ISRO Come Together to Make Our Train Journeys Safer


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Indian Railways and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) are coming together to utilise technology in a way that our train journeys can be made a lot safer and easier in terms of navigation. 

With the vision of making our railway journeys safer and more efficient, Indian Railways will tie up with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to get satellite images of all the track routes, and to help in navigation.

With the use of geospatial technology, it will be possible to map the complete rail routes including buildings, land, workshops etc. on the way.

The technology involves GPS (global positioning systems), GIS (geographical information systems), and RS (remote sensing) features.

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Photo Credit: Feng Zhong/Flickr

This service will be provided by GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system of ISRO. GAGAN is an indigenous navigation system which was jointly developed by ISRO and Airports Authority of India (AAI) to assist aircrafts in accurate landing. It can now be used to assist trains as well, and Indian Railways will be able to receive online satellite images which will help in mapping the train routes in detail.

“We will sign an MoU with ISRO shortly to avail the online satellite images to create a GIS platform,” informed a senior Railway Ministry official to PTI.

This is how the GAGAN system can help Indian Railways:

  • It will be very helpful at the time of train accidents when it is difficult to find out the exact location of trains.
  • With the help of remote sensing facility, it will also help in devising solutions for safety at unmanned railway crossings.
  • Drivers on the road can be warned about an approaching train by activating hooters at the crossings.
  • With the use of GAGAN software system, trains would know the location of any unmanned level crossing and a warning signal can be given for their reference.
  • The images will also be used for geo-fencing, which will be utilised for the recently launched paperless ticketing system app. Geo-fencing is a feature which makes use of GPS and radio frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical boundaries.
  • It will also be easier to track trains with the technology on a real time basis. As of now, the train movements are tracked manually.

“There is specific information provided for aligning the railway tracks, particularly in mountainous regions, and also identifying tracks which are most stable when you are going through tunnels. In all these things, space technology is useful,” ISRO Chairman, A.S. Kiran Kumar was quoted saying earlier this year.

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