Indian Railways unveils country’s 1st smart coach

The state-owned Indian Railways has unveiled the country’s first “smart coach,” equipped with advanced disc brake, fire detection and GPS-based tracking systems apart from CCTV cameras.

The coach has vibration-based, self-power harvesting sensor on the axle box which will predict the defects on the bearings, wheel defects and hard spot (defects) on the track, enabling the railways to plan maintenance on exactly need basis and eliminating online failures, the Railway Ministry said in a statement. A senior official said recently that the coach has been manufactured by the state-owned Modern Coach Factory and plans are afoot to produce 100 such coaches.

“This is India’s first state-of-the-art coach which will change the way people travel on trains,” he said.

The Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest train networks, criss-crossing the country from north to south. It operates some 9,000 passenger trains and carries nearly 23 million passengers every day.

The vast public enterprise can be referred to as a semi-state. It runs schools, hospitals, has its own police force and construction companies, and has 1.3 million people on its payroll, making it one of the biggest employers in the world.

However, train disasters are common in India as much of the colonial-era rail infrastructure is out of date. A number of people are killed in train accidents, mostly derailments, across the country every year. In 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government pledged 137 billion U.S. dollars over five years to modernize and expand the railways.

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