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KOLKATA: In a move towards providing more safety for passengers, Eastern Railway has installed Vigilance Control Devices (VCD) on all its 228 electric locomotives. These devices, fitted in the cabins of the locomotives, alerts loco pilots if they fail to perform any important function. It also makes sure that an accident doesn't occur due to a loco pilot falling asleep or collapsing due to an illness. If the driver fails to respond to repeated alarms, the system applies brakes automatically. ""We have installed VCDs in all the electric locomotives and they are working satisfactorily. This will go a long way in ensuring safety to passengers. ER has been complemented for this by Kul Bhushan, member (electrical), Railway Board, for timely installation of the VCDs,"" said H P Singh, chief electrical engineer, ER. ... Read more...
The VCD is an effective alternative to the Dead Man's Lever in locomotives. These levers, on the front console, had to be kept lowered by loco pilots to keep the train running. Any easing of pressure would result in the locomotive coming to a stop automatically. It was, however, a tedious task for the drivers to keep the levers lowered continuously. The VCD is installed in front of the loco pilot and gives cyclic warnings to him. According to officials, while driving a locomotive, the loco pilot has to perform certain functions such as pressing the horn button, increasing or decreasing the speed or clicking on or off certain switches on the console. The VCD records these movements. If the driver doesn't have anything to do, he will have to keep on resetting a switch on the device to keep it informed that he is alert. ""The Light Emitting Diode (LED) on the VCD starts blinking after 60 seconds to alert the loco pilot. The light blinks for 17 seconds. In case, the driver isn't alert enough, there is a buzzer that goes off for another 17 seconds. In case the loco pilot continues to ignore the warnings, the system applies penalty brakes. Gradually, the locomotive comes to a stop,"" an official said. The VCD may not be as efficient as a Train Protection and Warning System which the railways is planning to install along busy sections but it will help to prevent accidents due to human error. There have been several instances across the country when loco pilots have overshot red signals. On the other hand, the system will act as evidence for drivers if they are falsely accused of failing to remain alert while in charge of a train.