Signal & Telecom

Your window to the world of Indian Railways

Development of Signalling on Indian Railways

The first train service was started on Indian Railways in 1853 between Wadi Bunder and Thane, in Mumbai. Even though, semaphore signals were provided at most of the stations, there was no interlocking introduced on Indian Railways.

Two British Signal Engineers, List and Morse were the first to introduce interlocking in N.W. Railway's 23 stations between Ghaziabad and Peshawar in 1894. They are called 'Fathers of Indian Railway Signalling'. All other important Company Railways like GIP (Great Indian Peninsular) Railway, BB&CI (Bombay-Baroda Central India) Railway, MSM (Madras-South Maratha) Railway, started introducing interlocking on their important routes.

There was another important development in 1920. A Signal Engineer of Assam Bengal Railway (present North Frontier Railway) introduced a new system of mechanical signalling calleddouble wire signalling, which has many advantages over single wire system which was in use. Many company Railways did not want to adopt this system in spite of many advantages. However, in 1950, the Double wire system became very popular and had to be necessarily used for providing a signalling system known as'Multiple Aspect Upper Quadrant" (MAUQ) signals.

Indian Railways started modernising their signalling system in late 50's. The first modern signalling system called Route Relay Interlocking was introduced for the first time in Indian Railways in 1958. In this system, the operation of a major junction station can be controlled from a single central location, as compared to decentralised mechanical operation from many cabins. Another important landmark in the history of Indian Railway Signalling was the introduction of 'Centralised Traffic Control' (CTC) in North Eastern Railway in 1966 between Gorakhpur Cantonment and Chupra. In this system all the signals located over 175 kms were controlled from Gorakhpur Cantonment. A similar system was introduced in North Frontier Railway between Bongaigaon and Chaunsari in 1968. Both the system were totally imported from U.S.A. An all indigenous CTC was commissioned between Madras Egmore-Tambaram in Southern Railway in 1970. Presently, however, there are no working CTC Installations on Indian Railways.

Indian Railways introduced for the first time a device called Axle Counter, which is used to detect whether a section is occupied or clear, in 1972. This device was imported from West Germany. An indigenous development was taken up by Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi &  Research Designs and Standards Organisation, Lucknow alongwithtwo Signal Workshops at Byculla of Central Railway, and Podanur of Southern Railway, in 1973 and completed in 1976. Indigenous axle counters are extensively used on Indian Railways.

The first Auxiliary Warning System (AWS) was installed in Gaya-Mughulsarai and Howrah-Burdwan sections of Eastern Railways in 1972. However due to large scale thefts of track equipments, the effectiveness of the system could not be evaluated. However, AWS was introduced in the most busy suburban section of Western Railway i.e. between Churchgate-Virar in 1987. This equipment is working quite satisfactorily. The latest development in signalling is the introduction of computers in interlocking called 'Solid State Interlocking' (SSI). The first SSI was commissioned at Srirangam station (near Trichy Junction ) in Southern Railway in 1970.

Another, modern Signalling achievement on Indian Railways has been the commissioning of the Train Management System on Churchgate Virar section of Mumbai Suburban Section. This project, commissioned in 2003, provides live train movements of the entire 60 KM Churchgate Virar Section in the Control Centre at Mumbai Central. Train Timings are automatically logged. Announcements at stations are triggered automatically from the central servers. "Countdown in Minutes"  keeps the commuters informed about train arrivals at stations…in how many minutes the trains shall arrive at the platform.

Mobile communication has also been provided between Control Centre and the Suburban trains.  Train Management System (TMS) is the first modern Project of its kind on Indian Railways.

Signal Directorate in IR

Telecom Directorate in IR

IR Annual Statistics and Reports


Publications by CAMTECH, Gwalior (available only on Intranet)

Read more on the subject - IRISET website

Signalling Notes

Telecommunication Notes

Some presentations

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