In India, Train travel becomes safer with automatic door systems.

India’s national rail company, Indian Railways, serves a vast market. A test train using automatic door systems – the successful result of an award-winning international project by Knorr-Bremse India – slashes the risk of fatal accidents.

”In India, around two to three thousand rail passengers die every year from falling out of open train doors,” notes AP Garg, Managing Director KB India. “Automatic door systems could significantly improve safety.” KB India had long attempted to convince its key account, national rail company Indian Railways, of the wisdom of this move. Indian Railways is responsible for the vast majority of rail transportation across India, where 12,000 trains per day take 23 million passengers to their destinations. Yet despite this vast market, virtually no automatic door systems had previously been in use.

International collaboration necessary

When the tender for a test train with automatic doors was finally announced, the team in India was delighted––at first. “Then we spotted problems that threatened to delay the entire project,” recalls Rajiv Agarwal, Chief General Manager Marketing, System, Sales & Service. The door system is usually controlled from the locomotive, normally the responsibility of the train builder, while cabling throughout the train would fall to a different manufacturer. KB India’s project idea and international implementation cut this Gordian knot.

In India, around two to three thousand rail passengers die every year from falling out of open train doors.

AP Garg – Managing Director Knorr-Bremse India

Project management from a single source

The bold, successful project was even singled out for an Asia Pacific Value Award. “We offered Indian Railways the option that we would supply all parts of the project from a single source,” explains Viju Thomas, Chief General Manager Mass Transit & Train System.

In an enterprising initiative, KB India organized production of the door systems for the 17 carriages of the “Tejas Express” test train at IFE-Victall in Qingdao, China; called in IFE from Kematen, Austria, to design the safety concept; and commissioned a special control system for the doors from RailServices in Munich. Reinhard Rauscher, Senior Specialist Sales RailServices, regards this expansion of modernization activities as the clincher: “The step enabled KB India to present itself as a manufacturer, not merely a supplier.“

Complex cabling in the test train

The Munich team was tasked with developing a control system that would operate independently of the locomotive. “We installed control units in the two power cars at the front and rear of the train, where diesel generators providing power for the carriages are located.” All doors can be opened and closed from the guard panels – control panels in the guard’s cabin of the power car. “We had to lay a cable harness with 11 cables and all necessary connectors through the whole train,” says Rauscher. The task was “pretty complex,” he recalls, but was performed successfully thanks to the expertise of external providers and the System Engineering RailServices team under Benjamin Kumpfe.

The test train has now been in service for around a year without a hitch. A further modernization project for an electric multiple unit (EMU) train is also about to go into operation. The market is opening up––and it’s big.

Open doors are a risk factor. Based on positive feedback concerning the automatic doors, Knorr-Bremse India has fitted a further train (EMU) with automatic doors, which will go into operation shortly.
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