In a bid to accurately and automatically track rolling stock as it moves railway network, Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has decided to fit all rolling stock, including around 3,50,000 coaches and wagons with RFID tags by 2021. An RFID tag is basically an electronic tag that can exchange data with an RFID reader through radio waves. Two works for the implementation of the RFID project have been sanctioned by the Railway Board for a total of Rs 112.96 crore. According to details shared by Indian Railways, so far nearly 22,000 wagons and 1,200 coaches have been equipped with RFID tags.
In addition to this, around 3,500 fixed RFID readers are likely to be introduced, which will communicate to a central control center using GS1’s low-level reader protocol (LLRP) standard. The RFID project has been undertaken under ‘Make in India’ initiative by the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the IT arm of the national transporter.
The technology is expected to help Indian Railways track each of its coaches and wagons as a result of which, wherever necessary, the coaches and wagons can be suitably deployed in a timely manner. The RFID tag will provide the wagon number as well as all information about it, including its past history. According to Indian Railways, the system will reduce network congestion, avoid issues of connectivity along with better utilization of assets.
Interestingly, the RFID tags can be used in all the locations across the country including those regions with poor connectivity. The national transporter has opted to use the GIAI-202 standard as GIAI202 encoded tags, designed by CRIS has been successfully field-tested at a speed of 182.7 km per hour. With this, Indian Railways has been included in the league of leaders with respect to Automatic Identification and Data Collection (AIDC) technology in the railway sector.
The system includes the integration of RFID readers with various equipment like trackside condition monitoring equipment, train presence detectors, etc. The combination of all of these will enable an early identification of rolling stock that may require maintenance. With this, Indian Railways will be able to improve the reliability of its rolling stock, thereby shifting from time-based maintenance to condition-based maintenance.