A cargo train crossing a deserted inter state railway station on a foggy winter morning in South Kolkata, India

India to deploy blockchain for railway system ‘tamper-proof’ signaling

Following the train accident that claimed nearly 300 lives, India is testing the use of blockchain to improve its railway signaling and communications.

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is building a new blockchain-based signaling system to complement the existing Data Logger, according to a report from The Hindu. The plan is the brainchild of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) stream and has received the green light from the government’s top brass, including Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Minister of Railways.

“After Mr. Vaishnaw sought a proposal on a fool-proof signalling system based on blockchain, I am writing the programme along with some colleagues in IIT-Bhubaneshwar. Blockchain is being deployed in many developing countries and I think the technology can immensely benefit the Indian Railways as safety of train operations,” Professor Aurobinda Routray, IIT-Kharagpur, said.

Routray remarked that blockchain technology has the potential to improve India’s railway processes, given its transparency and tamper-proof nature. He added that under the new system, rail operators can access the real-time movement of trains while maintaining the tenets of data integrity.

Routray pointed out that the centralized nature of the Data Logger system was a major flaw that will be addressed via distributed ledgers, “making the data accessible to all stakeholders.”

“All events occurring in the train and control room would be recorded securely and no one can tamper with it or bypass it,” Routray noted.

Routray added that the new blockchain system has the potential to automate processes via the use of tamper-proof smart contracts. Aside from being tamper-proof, the smart contract functionality will be integral in creating audit trails for investigative purposes.

India’s push into blockchain

While the Indian government is not the biggest fan of deploying blockchain for financial systems, it remains keen on integrating the technology into other facets of its economy. Regional governments have since made the play to use blockchain for record-keeping, especially in real estate transactions.

New Delhi’s administrators have also moved to rely on blockchain for criminal forensics, while several government agencies are launching learning courses to deepen the blockchain talent pool.

These initiatives align with the government’s plan to increase blockchain adoption by up to 46% in the coming year, a statement confirmed by the country’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Watch: India will be the biggest blockchain nation in 5 years: IPv6 Forum’s Latif Ladid

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