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In a First, Railways to Roll out Smart Coaches with Black Box & Real-Time Info

The Railways is pushing the boundaries in terms of technology.


The Railways is increasingly pushing for digitalisation of its operations. They introduced POS machines on trains, which provide comprehensive bills. They’ve also made it possible to change your boarding station online. In yet another initiative to push the innovation envelope forward, the Indian Railways has decided to roll out smart coaches.

To mark National Technology Day, the first smart coach will be revealed today at the Rae Bareli Coach Factory as a pilot project. After the trial run, the Railways looks to implement this in many more coaches.

The Railways are planning to roll out smart coaches equipped with great amenities and safety features.Representative image only. Picture Courtesy: Facebook.
The Railways are planning to roll out smart coaches equipped with great amenities and safety features.Representative image only. Picture Courtesy: Facebook.

The objective of the smart coaches is simple–be proactive, instead of reactive. The coach has a provision to constantly monitor critical components, especially those known to cause harm to rail infrastructure, as well as delays and derailments. The system will provide real-time updates so that maintenance schedules can be planned effectively.


The project will cost an additional Rs 15 to 20 lakh per coach. Some components like CCTV cameras, a passenger information system, fire extinguishers, etc. have already been implemented.

There are a number of interesting features these new coaches have, and here’s what you should know about them.

1. They will have black boxes–a-first for the Railways. These will provide all kinds of information on coach conditions and passenger-related data on a real-time basis, according to a senior Railway Ministry official quoted in The News Minute.

2. The Railways will implement a sensor-based on-board condition monitoring system (OBCMS), to detect defects related to passenger coaches and the tracks on a running train. With CCTV cameras and information systems that provide constant updates on coach health, from oscillatory behaviour to heating systems, ventilation, air-conditioning, water management and coach diagnostics, the system will strengthen safety and security in train operations.

3. The coach will have sensors on each wheel that will record all vibrations and temperatures. Vibration discrepancies are the first sign that the wheel-bearings of a coach must be malfunctioning. Action can then be taken accordingly.

4. The same sensors, deployed in volume, will keep an eye on track health, to ensure safety, and ensure predictive maintenance. This will also enable efficient use of resources and reduced operational costs.

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5. The system will have to make use of the Internet of Things, a passenger-entertainment system which will also display train-related information.

As always, passenger satisfaction seems to be a priority for the national carrier.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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