Kavach: Did the lack of an armour kill hundreds in modern India that is spending record money for railways

Kavach: Did the lack of an armour kill hundreds in modern India that is spending record money for railways

Kavach: Did the lack of an armour kill hundreds in modern India that is spending record money for railways?

On June 3, 2023, a tragic train accident in Odisha claimed the lives of 288 people and injured 900 more. The accident involved three trains: the Coromandel Express, the Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express and a goods train. The Coromandel Express derailed and collided with the goods train on the loop line, while the Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express rammed into the derailed coaches on the main line.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, but some railway officials have suggested a possible signalling failure as the reason why the Coromandel Express moved onto the wrong track. The accident has raised serious questions about the safety of Indian railways, especially after it was revealed that the anti-train collision system, or Kavach, was not installed on the route where the incident occurred.

What is Kavach?

Kavach, which means armour in Hindi, is an indigenous Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system developed by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in collaboration with three Indian vendors. The system was introduced by the Indian Railways in April 2022 as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.

Kavach is designed to prevent train collisions by automatically applying brakes in case the loco pilot fails to do so or ignores signals. It also displays line-side signals in the cab for better visibility in foggy weather and high speeds. It works on the principle of continuous update of movement authority and uses direct loco-to-loco communication to avoid collision. It also has features like auto whistling at level crossings and SOS in case of emergencies.

According to the railways, Kavach is the cheapest automatic train collision protection system and has achieved Safety Integrity Level 4 (SIL-4) certification, which is the highest level of safety certification.

Could Kavach have averted the Odisha accident?

A railway spokesperson confirmed that Kavach was not installed in the systems of the three trains involved in the accident. He also said that Kavach was being deployed on high-density routes and would cover 2,000 km of railway tracks by 2022-23.

However, some experts have questioned whether Kavach could have prevented the accident even if it was installed. They have pointed out that Kavach is not a foolproof system and has some limitations. For instance, Kavach does not work on electrified tracks and requires battery backup. It also does not cover all types of signals and scenarios and may not be compatible with existing signalling systems.

Moreover, some critics have argued that Kavach is not enough to ensure rail safety and that other factors like human error, infrastructure maintenance, track quality, signalling systems and train operations need to be improved as well.

What are the challenges and prospects for rail safety in India?

The Odisha train accident has once again exposed the vulnerability of Indian railways, which carries over 23 million passengers and 3 million tonnes of freight every day. According to official data, there were 1,405 train accidents between 2010 and 2020, resulting in 1,789 deaths and 3,534 injuries.

The Indian Railways has been taking various measures to improve rail safety, such as modernising signalling systems, replacing old tracks and coaches, installing CCTV cameras and GPS devices, conducting regular audits and inspections and enhancing training and awareness among staff.

However, these measures face several challenges such as inadequate funds, outdated technology, bureaucratic delays, corruption, lack of coordination among various agencies and departments and resistance from unions and employees.

Despite these challenges, there are some positive signs for rail safety in India. The railways has announced several initiatives such as Mission Raftaar to increase speed and punctuality of trains, Mission Zero Accident to eliminate accidents by 2030, Mission Satyanishtha to promote ethics and transparency among staff and Mission Utkrisht to upgrade trains and stations.

The railways has also partnered with various national and international agencies such as ISRO, IITs, JICA and World Bank to adopt best practices and technologies for rail safety. Moreover, the railways has been investing heavily in new projects such as dedicated freight corridors, bullet trains, metro rails and regional rapid transit systems to enhance mobility and connectivity.

The Odisha train accident has been a wake-up call for Indian railways to improve its safety standards and performance. While Kavach may be a useful armour to prevent train collisions, it is not a magic bullet that can solve all the problems of rail safety. The railways needs to adopt a holistic and multi-pronged approach to ensure safe, efficient and reliable rail transport for the people of India.

How can the public contribute to rail safety in India?
While the Indian Railways is responsible for ensuring rail safety, the public also has a role to play in making rail transport safer and smoother. Here are some ways that the public can contribute to rail safety in India:

● Follow the rules and regulations of the railways and do not indulge in any unlawful or unsafe activities such as trespassing, crossing tracks, travelling on rooftops, pulling chains, damaging property or obstructing trains.
● Report any suspicious or hazardous objects, persons or activities to the railway authorities or security personnel and cooperate with them in case of emergencies or investigations.
● Use authorised modes of transport and avoid overcrowding or overloading of trains and stations. Do not board or alight from moving trains or force open doors or windows. Use foot overbridges, subways and escalators to cross platforms and tracks.
● Respect the rights and duties of railway staff and do not harass, abuse or assault them. Appreciate their efforts and provide constructive feedback and suggestions to improve their services.
● Be aware of the various facilities and amenities provided by the railways such as helplines, apps, websites, social media, complaint redressal systems, passenger information systems, etc. and use them effectively and responsibly.
● Be courteous and considerate towards fellow passengers and do not cause any inconvenience or discomfort to them. ●Maintain cleanliness and hygiene in trains and stations and do not litter or spit. Help senior citizens, women, children and differently abled passengers in need.
● Participate in various initiatives and campaigns launched by the railways such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Rail Parivar Vikas Yojana, Rail Sahyog Portal, etc. and contribute to the development and welfare of the railways and its stakeholders.

The public is an integral part of the Indian Railways and can make a difference in enhancing rail safety in India. By following these simple steps, the public can help the railways achieve its vision of providing safe, efficient and reliable rail transport for the nation.


The Odisha train accident has been a tragic reminder of the need for improving rail safety in India. The Indian Railways has been taking various measures to enhance its safety standards and performance, such as installing Kavach, an anti-collision system for trains. However, Kavach alone is not enough to prevent train accidents and other factors such as human error, infrastructure maintenance, track quality, signalling systems and train operations need to be addressed as well. The public also has a role to play in making rail transport safer and smoother by following the rules and regulations of the railways and cooperating with the railway authorities and staff. Together, we can make Indian Railways a world-class transport system that serves the people of India with safety, efficiency and reliability.


(1) Kavach: Did the lack of an armour kill hundreds in modern India that is spending record money for railways?. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/did-lack-of-armour-kill-hundreds-in-odisha/ar-AA1c6dyD.

(2) All About Kavach, An Anti-Collision System For Trains - NDTV.com. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/all-about-kavach-an-anti-collision-system-for-trains-4090825.

(3) What is the Kavach system and could it have helped avert the Odisha train accident?. https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/what-is-the-kavach-system-and-could-it-have-helped-avert-the-odisha-train-accident/ar-AA1c52Il.


What is Kavach for?

Kavach is meant to provide protection by preventing trains to pass the signal at danger (red) and avoid collision. It activates the train braking system automatically if the driver fails to control the train as per the speed restrictions.

What is Kavach by Indian Railway?

Kavach ( lit. 'Armour') is an automatic train protection (ATP) system indigenously developed by Indian Railways through Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO). Initial development of Kavach started in 2012 under the name Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS).

Who developed the railway kavach?

Kavach has been developed indigenously by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in association with three Indian vendors.

How do I register with kavach?

The PS/ Group member will click on “ADD NEW ACCOUNT” in the Kavach app. Enter the email ID and Password of the user whose account he/she has to access. Enter the 6-digit OTP sent on the registered mobile number of the user (the user needs to share the OTP received on phone with the PS/Group member to allow access).

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