Eight months before the Amritsar train tragedy after which three different probes were ordered, there was a proposal for installing video cameras in front of Loco engines to get “valuable insights in the investigation of run over incidents, accidents, suicides etc.”
The proposal came up and was discussed in the quarterly meeting of State Level Security Committee for Railways held on February 15. The meeting was chaired by Punjab DGP Suresh Arora and was attended by Inspector General-cum-Chief Security Officer Northern Railway, Punjab GRP IG, Railway Protection Force Senior Divisional Security Commissioners of Ferozepur and Ambala and two other officials.
It was recorded in the minutes of the meetings. The minutes of the meetings accessed by The Indian Express read, “Video cameras should be installed in front of Loco engines as they will provide valuable insights in the investigation of run over incidents, accidents, suicides etc.”
Punjab Additional Director General (Railways) Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota said, “Yes, it was decided in the meeting to have video cameras in front of Loco engines. It is now for the railways to take a call on this.”
A railway official who attended the meeting in February said the proposal was on the lines of “TRI-Netra concept” envisaged by the Railways a couple of years ago. “It is in the planning stage,” said the official, adding that video cameras on Loco engines so far have been sometimes used in “inspection carriages” only and not on any trains’ loco engines in Northern Railways.
The proposal of TRI-Netra —Terrain Imaging for Diesel Drivers Infra-red, Enhanced Optical & Radar Assisted system, as per a July 17, 2016 press release by Press Information Bureau, was initiated by Ministry of Railways, Railway Board for “enhancing the vision of Locomotive Pilots in inclement weather. “During fog, heavy rain and also during night, the locomotive pilots face serious challenge in looking out ahead to spot any obstruction on the track such as vehicles which get stuck while crossing the track or trees or boulders which have fallen across the track etc. Because of the heavy momentum of the running train, the train driver has to always adjust the speed of the train such that he or she can stop the train on visually seeing the obstruction. In fair weather and in the daytime, this is not a problem since train driver has a clear view of the track ahead. But in poor visibility, he has to reduce the speed suitably so that the brakes can be applied in time to stop the train without hitting the obstructions.
This is where TRI-Netra will come into picture give the locomotive pilot a clear view of the track ahead in bad visibility conditions so that he can apply brakes well in time,” said the PIB press release, adding that concept was developed “while brainstorming on how to use the technology employed by fighter aircraft to see through clouds and operate in pitch darkness and the technology used by naval ships in mapping the ocean floor and navigating in the night.”
“TRI-Netra system shall be made up of high-resolution optical video camera, high sensitivity infra-red video camera and additionally a radar-based terrain mapping system. These three components of the system shall act as three eyes (Tri-Netra) of the Locomotive Pilot. TRI-Netra is designed to “see” the terrain ahead of running locomotive during inclement weather by combining the images captured by the three sub-systems and to create a composite video image which shall be displayed in front of the Loco Pilot on a computer monitor,” PIB release explained.
After the fatal mishap on the evening of October 19 when people watching Ravana effigy burning on Dussehra were mowed down by the train, three separate probes were ordered — one by the Railways, other by Punjab government and yet another by the Punjab DGP. Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety, S K Pathak, in his provisional report last month blamed “negligence” of people for the tragedy. Among other things, report had noted that incident occurred when there was smoke in the air due to firecrackers and burning of Ravana’s effigy.
A government official said among other aspects, a trial run of a train was conducted during the state government-ordered magisterial probe on the track where the incident occurred to note how much distance it covered after loco pilot saw the crowd and applied emergency brakes. The investigation by Special Investigation Team constituted by Sahota on the directions of DGP Suresh Arora is on.