Railway safety can be improved by using Artificial Intelligence (AI), which has the ability to rapidly process large amounts of data and information, resulting in early warnings about critical equipment failures and potential outages.
The drastic collision of three trains in Odisha’s Balasore brought the issue of railway safety to the fore. With the tragic death of nearly 288 passengers, it is one of the biggest train accidents in India. The results of the detailed investigation will come later, but initially, it is feared that a wrong signal, technical fault, human error, or some ‘manual tinkering’ could be the possible reason for this unfortunate accident. In the mishap, the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express rammed into a goods train, following which the Howrah-bound Yesvantpur Express slammed into damaged compartments four minutes later.
I have been keenly interested in rail technology since childhood. While studying at Govt Inter College, Budaun (UP), I was rewarded by the Uttar Pradesh government for making a New Type of Rail Joint in the early 80s. I had proposed joining the ends of two rails, having a 45-degree angle cut, which was widely appreciated in the media and Bharatiya Rail as well. The innovative theory was examined by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) Lucknow, which works under the Ministry of Railways. Later, more advanced techniques came into practice for the rail joints.
What I feel now is that safety in railways can be improved to a great extent by applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the technical systems of the railway. AI has the ability to rapidly process large amounts of data and information, resulting in early warnings about critical equipment failures and potential outages. AI has introduced several new dimensions to ensure safety in the railways. By analyzing data in real-time, the system can detect potential hazards, such as AI-powered cameras monitoring track conditions and alerting crews if anything unusual is detected, which could lead to a train derailment. Thus it can reduce the probability of accidents.
By analyzing passenger numbers, demand, schedules, and availability of tracks with the help of AI, efficient use of resources can be determined. This will reduce the problem of late running of trains and also improve the overall passenger experience. AI can predict passenger demand by analyzing passenger behavioral data. This will make it possible to optimize the train schedule and make sure that the trains are run on time. AI can improve operational efficiency in the rail industry by analyzing potential delays. These are just some of the ways AI is already benefiting the railways. Smart technology can make train journeys safer, more efficient, and more comfortable.
Ever since the practice of digital payment and UPI payment has grown in India, each and every paisa is automatically calculated at a fraction of a second. Transactions worth millions of rupees are being done round the clock with absolute efficiency and trust. This development has ended the dependence on banks or calculators to a great extent. Be it the stock markets or the consumer markets, everywhere all the calculations are done in the blink of an eye. So why can’t we use this magic of AI to enhance the level of safety and comfort in the trains?