Naturally, for CBM to be effective, a large amount of information must be collected through a range of inspection methods and network of sensors to assess the condition of the assets. Railway companies in Japan are leveraging ICT technology for this purpose, and the same must be the case for India. A detailed description of the existing technology is shown here. Some of the examples are as follows. First is using a High-Speed Inspection vehicle (commonly called as Dr. Yellow or East-i), which can run at normal operating speeds and can be operated during the daily schedule. These vehicles are equipped with instruments capable of checking track alignment at high-speed and are equipped with highspeed cameras to take pictures of the anomalies. They can also be utilized to check the conditions of the overhead wires for ensuring smooth current transfer. Other examples include the use of drones on concrete and steel structures to detect surface cracks and deflection, etc. Sensors have also been used for even the seemingly insignificant of the components; for example, the performance of the automatic train doors can be observed using the level of voltage output. Artificial intelligence can then be utilized to predict failures and ensure efficient resource allocation. Thus the upcoming HSR project in India offers a unique opportunity for the Indian tech industry to use its strengths and actively participate in indigenization of HSR technology.
Requirements Specific to India
Also, there are a few technological needs that are specific to India. First is the issue of security checks at the stations. Unlike metro security checks in India, the Japanese HSR does not have provision for checking the luggage of every passenger through x-ray machines. This offers unique flexibility to Japanese HSR passengers as they can simply come just in time for train and complete their journeys. The HSR connects the cities by its central districts and hence has a competitive advantage over the airlines for a distance of up to 800 KM, as airports are usually away from city centers and have long lines for security. If India were to maintain the competitive advantages of HSR, we surely need to develop efficient technology for allowing quick and effective security checks for all passengers. The solution should be flexible enough to handle the peak as well as off-peak demands. Another opportunity for Indian HSR is to explore mobile-based unique services to passengers. Few examples include services such as mobile-based ticketing, inside station navigation, multi-modal tickets, etc. These services allowing passengers to minimize their access and egress times are all likely to be in significant demand, and the private companies should work closely with the HSR operators to develop these solutions.
At this stage, I would like to reiterate the importance of quality of HSR technical components. Every HSR component is developed after strict regimes of research, product testing, and continuous management of quality control. Even if the quality of an individual element is high, the integrated functioning of various technical parts is essential, and hence, the relationship of a component to the whole system should be considered. Even then, as the technology will evolve, in some fields more rapidly than others, importance should be given on the performance of the system as a whole and not on a single component alone.
The above article was an attempt to give an overview of key HSR technology and discuss the opportunities that exist for the Indian technology sector in fulfilling the demand for low-cost, high-quality products. Countless opportunities exist for utilizing technology to improve overall journey experience not only in HSR but also in Indian Railways.