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Bric a brac : Railway signals

piyush goel in a bind

THERE is a fierce war in the Ministry of Railways over selection of a telecom network model for the much-needed Modernisation of Signalling and Telecom Project. The plan is to go in for European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2. The war is among 2G and 4G network suppliers. Railway Minister Piyush Goel has called three presentations in which Thales, Siemens, Alstom, Hitachi, Bombardier and Ansaldo, Nokia, Ericsson, and Kapsch (represented by Vista) presented their case. The meeting was moderated by E&Y and was also attended by the Minister of State for Railways and the Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani. Sources disclosed that it was decided to use Long Term Evaluation (4G) as the telecom technology for this project despite the fact that it was pointed out during the meeting that there is no live reference of LTE usage for ETCS Level 2. This took Piyush Goel by surprise and he asked if this was true. Two people pointed out that it was not true: DG-Safety &T of Railways said the same has been done in China and Korea while and an Alstom representative mentioned that they had done a project in Australia. Goel said he would get the same checked. Sources have informed gfiles that no such project has been done in China and Korea and in Australia, a 11 km pilot project has been undertaken. Let us remember that the 162-year-old Indian railway system has more than 60,000 km (40,000 miles) of track on which ETCS level 2 is to be implemented. Meanwhile, a budget of Rs 79,000 crore has been approved for the same. The Modi Government is keen to showcase this as one of its major achievements during the 2019 election but actually Finance Minister Arun Jaitely has sanctioned peanuts for this mega project. Piyush Goel is now reportedly looking for financiers for this project.

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