Friday, March 31

East-West Metro suicide shields pass fitness test

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Suicides, commuters accidentaly falling on train tracks and getting electrocuted by the third rail… The East-West Metro authorities on Thursday weeded out all such possibilities by syncing automatic platform screen gates (PSG) with the trains’ signalling system.

PSGs — or mechanized screens — fitted on the platforms of the upcoming corridor will be the hallmark of the six elevated stations to be operational in the first phase (5km) of Kolkata’s new rapid transit corridor (16km). Seamless synchronization of the PSGs will ensure approval of the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) for operations. On Thursday, TOI was witness to a demonstration of the state-of-the-art feat by engineers of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), which is implementing the underwater Howrah-Sector V corridor.

The installation of the gates has entailed an average cost of Rs 5 crore per station. “The cost is nothing when you think of the lives the PSGs will save,” said Anup Kumar Kundu, director (rolling stocks), KMRC. He stood beaming as the PSGs slid automatically when the train chugged into the Karunamoyee station. Synchronization of the two sets of doors — those of the coaches and the PSGs — was perfect. On board, the driver kept aclose watch on the control panel inside the crew compartment, waiting for the signal to start the journey from Karunamoyee to Salt Lake’s Sector V, after the aligned closure of the coach’s doors and those of the PSGs.

Platform screen doors (PSDs) will be installed at the underground stations as well to prevent hot air flowing into the stations from the tunnels. The doors at the underground stations will, however, be taller (2.7m, depending on the height of the station ceiling) than those installed (1.7m) at stations in the first phase. The PSGs and the PSDs will also have emergency exits that can be operated manually if the sliding doors don’t function properly.

“This is the first time that Kolkata is getting PSGs or PSDs as seen in Delhi Metro. Heavy footfall is expected at the underground Howrah, Mahakaran, Esplanade and Sealdah stations during peak hours. The PSDs will ensure there’s no accidental fall or suicide,” said Kundu. At these busy stations, the train will stop for 45 seconds. The rest will have 20 seconds’ halt.

The automatic gates are steered by the new-age signalling technology ‘Communication-based Train Control (CBTC)’, which will run East-West Metro’s BEML-make new generation trains. “Thanks to the CBTC, the trains can run unattended but we prefer to keep a driver for passengers’ confidence,” said Kundu. A Chinese consortium of Zhu Zhou CRRC Times Electric of Hunan and Panasonic Manufacturing of Beijing has made the PSGs.

“It’s good that the new line has PSGs. We can’t install them in the north-south line for technological constraints. So, we have done the next best thing: deploy RPF in the stations,” said Kolkata Metro’s principal chief operations manager Satyaki Nath. In 2017, there were nine Metro suicides. “Last year, the figure was brought down to six as the RPF personnel stopped many from taking the fatal jump,” Nath said.

Source: Times of India

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