Control Organization of Southern Railway: The Nerve Centre of Train Operations and In-house communication
Section Controllers play a crucial role in monitoring and regulating the movement of Trains
Manned by dedicated staff round the clock 24X7, 365 days
The Control office is the nerve center of all operations and commands. In Southern Railway and in its six divisions, the Control Office works 24x7, with a separate control unit set up under one common roof for each one of the departments such as Operating, Commercial, Signal and Telecommunication, Engineering, Mechanical, Traction, and Security Sections.
The Operating control monitors and regulates the movement of Mail/Express, Passenger and freight trains and it is directly in touch with Station Masters in all the Railway stations. A jurisdiction of a Railway division is further subdivided into sections for controlling of train operations and each section is coordinated by a Section controller at the Central control. Further, the control office co-ordinates the implementation of major engineering, construction and maintenance works that involves planning and execution of line blocks and traffic blocks. A central control at the Southern Railway Headquarters coordinates with all the control offices at the divisions.
During emergencies, the control office staff go beyond the call of duty in maintaining safe train operations. In view of the recent student agitations all over the country, Southern Railway Control Offices have conceptualized meticulous plans and assimilated additional task forces to deal with any possible exigency.
The effectiveness in maintaining the train schedules lies with the staff who are in charge of the Control Room operations. Controllers are responsible for monitoring the movement of trains and ensure smooth flow of transportation of the Division. On a day-to-day basis, their duties include review of previous day’s performance and prevent recurrence of shortfalls, Prepare current forecast indicating assistance needed from Headquarters, adjoining Divisions/Railways relating to interchange, loading and locomotive utilization, Checking control charts and bringing to the notice of the Senior Divisional Operations Manager/Divisional Operations Manager all avoidable detention to trains.
Controllers also maintain vital statistics on Punctuality performance of trains and keep watch over the detention of rolling stock at stations and terminals in order to ensure optimum utilization of rolling stock. Section Controllers are responsible for granting engineering blocks, power blocks etc., to facilitate infrastructural and safety works.
The Control Office never shuts down its operations and works round the clock to monitor and maintain the operations of all the trains over its jurisdiction. In recent days, train movements are supervised and captured in real time with the use of Control Office Application (COA) for effective monitoring of both scheduled and unscheduled trains. With the deployment of COA, a scheduled train can be started from one terminal to another by plotting the graph through getting information about the train from the stations manually, i.e., the information will be collected by a Controller on duty and the details collected include station name, train number, arrival time and departure time. This captured date is used for plotting the graph showing the movement of the train in the direction of its run and it also aids in fixing crossing or precedence of two or more trains at the best location based on conflict protocols.
As a matter of fact, even during the pandemic period the control offices in Southern Railway and its six divisions functioned round the clock with full manpower who overcame all difficulties in commuting to work. Some dedicated staff even chose to stay in the office premises when the situation demanded.
An efficient Firefighting body- Control office
The control office plays a crucial role during disruption to train operations owing to various reasons such as loco failure, rail defect, mechanical failure, etc. The control office of the concerned department plays a critical role in managing and resolving the failure at the end by efficiently coordinating with the operating control with the aim of reducing the train detention time and restoring the traffic to normalcy.