A Review on SCADA Systems in Indian Railways

ISSN : 0976-8491 (Online) | ISSN : 2229-4333 (Print)
IJCST Vol. 5, SPL - 1, Jan - March 2014
A Review on SCADA Systems in Indian Railways
Ananya Chandra, 2Vikas Bajpai, 3Sudhanshu Krishna Dubey
Final Year, B. Tech, The LNMIIT, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Dept. of CSE, The LNMIIT, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Sr. Divisional Electrical Engineer/Traction Distribution, Indian Railways, Lucknow, UP, India
SCADA, a computer system for gathering and analyzing real
time data, is an acronym for Supervisory Control and Data
Acquisition. SCADA systems are employed all over the world
to monitor and control a plant or any equipment in various
industries major ones being telecommunications, water, old and
gas, energy and transportation. SCADA Systems are employed
by Indian Railways to monitor and control the Traction Power
distribution. The systems employed encompass transfer of data
between a SCADA host computer and a number of Remote
Terminal Units (RTUs) and/or Programmable Logic Controllers
(PLCs) and operator terminals. These systems were proprietary in
nature and no standard specifications were followed concerning
hardware or protocol. Systems from different vendors cannot
co-exist in a given network. In this view, Indian Railways
formulated SPORT protocol for data transaction and corrective
action of tripping the circuit breakers in case of overload etc.
This paper is a review on how SCADA Systems are employed by
Indian Railways to achieve protection and automation of power
supply, acquisition and storage of parameters of power supply,
monitoring and controlling the entire power supply system, alarm
and logging system, load management, load shedding, power
quality monitoring and management.
SCADA, RTU, SPORT, Traction, Railway, OHE, Control,
Monitoring, Protocol
I. Introduction
The task of supervision of machinery and industrial processes on
a routine basis can be a tiring job. Always being on the side of
a machine or being on a 24x7 patrol duty around the equipment
performing checks would be wastage of the expertise of a person
on trivial task. The engineers devised equipment and sensors that
could reduce this burdensome task. As a result, control systems
and its various off springs like SCADA Systems were formed.
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) offers ease of
monitoring sensors placed at distances, from one central location.
SCADA Systems have been around since the 1960s and have
evolved as technology changes. SCADA Systems were generally
used to automatically monitor and control various operations in
utility networks, where manually doing a task is difficult and
error prone [1].
The Traction Power network of Indian Railways supplies power
(25kv, 50Hz) for electric trains to operate. This is a very huge
network spread across the country. As the electric trains traffic is
increasing enormously, this network requires continuous real time
monitoring of the traction power, failure of which may lead to
untoward incidents. Real time monitoring of the Traction power
network that consists of transformers, circuit breakers, lightening
arrestors, interrupters etc. is efficiently done using a SCADA
System [2]. With the advancements in computer technology and
development of latest microprocessors/microcontrollers, present
day SCADA Systems provide a complete view of the network
including details of each device and any part of the network can be
International Journal of Computer Science And Technology
controlled by a mouse-click on the GUI of the control center.
The SCADA System for Railway’s traction power network
consists of two major parts, Remote Control Center (RCC) and
Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) [3]. The RCC does the work of a
supervisor and controls the activities of a network through RTUs.
Several RTUs are required for interfacing with other elements of
a network as a power network is very huge. All these RTUs are
controlled by the RCC. The end devices which are to be monitored
are interfaced with the RCC through the RTU. The RTU polls the
end devices and collects status/alarm information of these end
devices. This information is queried by the RCC and the RTU
uploads the information when required. This information that
is collected from the RTUs is kept in databases and is displayed
through the GUI at RCC. This data is analyzed and used in network
controlling activities. The RCC configures and controls the RTUs
according to the network requirement which is dynamically
available on GUI [4].
II. SCADA Architectures
SCADA systems have evolved in parallel with the growth
and sophistication of modern computing technology [1]. The
following sections will provide a description of the following
three generations of SCADA systems:
• First Generation – Monolithic
• Second Generation – Distributed
• Third Generation – Networked
A. Monolithic SCADA Systems
When SCADA systems were first developed, the concept of
computing in general centered on “mainframe” systems. Networks
were generally non-existent, and each centralized system stood
alone. As a result, SCADA systems were standalone systems
with virtually no connectivity to other systems. The Wide Area
Networks (WANs) that were implemented to communicate
with remote terminal units (RTUs) were designed with a single
purpose in mind–that of communicating with RTUs in the field and
nothing else. In addition, WAN protocols in use today were largely
unknown at the time. The communication protocols in use on
SCADA networks were developed by vendors of RTU equipment
and were often proprietary. Also, it was generally not feasible to
intermingle other types of data traffic with RTU communications
on the network. Connectivity to the SCADA master station itself
was very limited by the system vendor. Redundancy in these first
generation systems was accomplished by the use of two identically
equipped mainframe systems, a primary and a backup, connected
at the bus level. The standby system’s primary function was to
monitor the primary and take over in the event of a detected
B. Distributed SCADA Systems
The next generation of SCADA systems took advantage of
developments and improvement in system miniaturization and
Local Area Networking (LAN) technology to distribute the
processing across multiple systems. Multiple stations, each with a
specific function, were connected to a LAN and shared information
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ISSN : 0976-8491 (Online) | ISSN : 2229-4333 (Print)
with each other in real-time. Some of these distributed stations
served as communications processors, primarily communicating
with field devices such as RTUs. Still others served as calculation
processors or database servers. The networks that connected
these individual systems were generally based on LAN protocols
and were not capable of reaching beyond the limits of the local
environment. This allowed a vendor to optimize its LAN protocol
for real-time traffic, but it limited (or effectively eliminated) the
connection of network from other vendors to the SCADA LAN.
Distribution of system functionality across network-connected
systems served not only to increase processing power, but also
to improve the redundancy and reliability of the system as a
whole. Rather than the simple primary/standby failover scheme
that was utilized in many first generation systems, the distributed
architecture often kept all stations on the LAN in an online state
all of the time.
The current generation of SCADA master station architecture is
closely related to that of the second generation, with the primary
difference being that of open system architecture rather than
a vendor controlled, proprietary environment. There are still
multiple networked systems, sharing master station functions.
There are still RTUs utilizing protocols that are vendor-proprietary.
The major improvement in the third generation is that of opening
the system architecture, utilizing open standards and protocols
and making it possible to distribute SCADA functionality across
a WAN and not just a LAN.
Open standards eliminate a number of the limitations of previous
generations of SCADA systems. The utilization of off-theshelf systems makes it easier for the user to connect third party
peripheral devices (such as monitors, printers, disk drives, tape
drives, etc.) to the system and/or the network. SCADA vendors
have gradually got out of the hardware development business
because we have moved to ‘open’ or ‘off-shelf’ systems. These
vendors have looked to system vendors such as Compaq, HewlettPackard, and Sun Microsystems for their expertise in developing
the basic computer platforms and operating system software. This
allows SCADA vendors to concentrate their development in an
area where they can add specific value to the system–that of
SCADA master station software. The major improvement in third
generation SCADA systems comes from the use of WAN protocols
such as the Internet Protocol (IP) for communication between the
master station and communications equipment. Vendors are now
producing RTUs that can communicate with the master station
using an Ethernet connection. Another advantage brought about
by the distribution of SCADA functionality over a WAN is that
of disaster survivability. The distribution of SCADA processing
across a LAN in second-generation systems improves reliability,
but in the event of a total loss of the facility housing the SCADA
master, the entire system could be lost as well. By distributing
the processing across physically separate locations, it becomes
possible to build a SCADA system that can survive a total loss
of any one location. For some organizations that see SCADA as
a super-critical function, this is a real benefit.
III. Traction Power Distribution
25kV. 50 Hz single phase electric traction system is adopted for
the electrified tracks. Power is obtained from State Electricity
Boards (SEBs) from their network at high voltages at traction
substations and stepped down to 25kV. The high voltage winding
of the single phase transformer is connected across two phases
and one terminal of the 25kV winding is connected to the rail and
the other terminal to the catenary system (Over Head Equipment
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IJCST Vol. 5, SPL - 1, Jan - March 2014
(OHE)). The TSSs are spaced at a distance of 40 to 60km.
The supply to the OHE from the TSS is fed through interrupters
located at feeding post (FP). Adjacent TSSs normally supply power
to the OHE on different phases to reduce unbalance in the supply
authorities’ grid. To avoid the pantograph of the locomotive or
electric multiple unit from bridging the supply from different
phases when it passes from one zone to another, a neutral section
is provided to separate the OHEs fed from different phases.
The switching station provided at the neutral section is called
“Sectioning and Paralleling Post” (SP). At the SP in multi-track
sections, the OHEs are also paralleled independently on either side
of the neutral section to reduce voltage drop. In an emergency,
when a TSS is out commission, feed from adjacent TSSs on either
side are extended up to the failed TSS by closing interrupters at
the SP. The pantograph(s) of the locomotive(s) or electric multiple
units is (are) lowered at the failed TSS to avoid short circuiting
the phases at the insulated overlap.
Between a TSS and adjacent neutral section, the OHE is divided
into subsections for isolating the faulty section for the purposes of
maintenance and repairs. The switching stations provided at such
points are called “Sub-sectioning and Paralleling posts” (SSP).
The OHE of various tracks, in multiple track sections, are also
paralleled at the SSP to reduce voltage drop in OHE. The subsectors are further divided into elementary sections by the use of
manually operated isolators.
At TSS, SP and SSP, equipment like power transformer, circuit
breakers, interrupters, single and double pole isolators, potential
and current transformers, lighting arrestors, LT supply transformers
etc. are installed in a fenced closure which is locked up. A masonry
building is provided for housing the control panels, SCADA
equipment, battery and battery chargers, telephones and others.
All traction sub-stations are manned and switching stations are
normally unmanned. The devices that are controlled from RCC
through SCADA equipment are circuit breakers, interrupters and
transformer tap changers. These can also be operated locally at the
TSS, SP and SSP as the case may be. At the TSS, a local/remote
changeover switch is provided on the control panel as well as
the mechanism box of the circuit breaker, interrupter and motor
operated isolators. No control panel exists for the interrupters at
the SP and SSP and therefore the local/remote changeover switch
is provided on the mechanism box of the interrupter [2].
IV. Overview of the SCADA System
The SCADA System is designed to monitor the status and control
of the 25kV electrified traction system [2, 4]. It is a fully integrated
hardware and software system with a central control to monitor
and control the field devices located at remote sites. The SCADA
system can be classified into:
• Remote Control Centre (RCC)
• Remote Terminal Unit (RTU)
A. Remote Control Centre
RCC is designed for monitoring different types of data like
catenary indication, device status and telemetry from various
control stations. It also controls the field equipment like circuit
breakers, bridging interrupters, transformer tap position changing
etc. RCC stores the data regarding alarms, events and telemetry
to help the user to analyze the status of the overhead equipment
and switching stations. This data can be used for maintenance
purposes also. For example, RCC helps the user to easily identify
the fault in the OHE located at various sections for immediate
rectification. RCC consists of the following:
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IJCST Vol. 5, SPL - 1, Jan - March 2014
• Main and Standby Computer
• Operator Workstation Computer
• Communication Processors with Modems
• Printer and Print Sharer Switch
• Modem
• Battery
This equipment is located in the Traction Power Control (TPC)
room. The UPS and batteries are located in the UPS room
and batteries room respectively. Main and Standby Computer,
Communication Processors, Modems, Workstation Computers
and Printers are installed in the TPC Room. Supervisory console
is installed at the CTPC Room.
The Main and Standby Computers are server grade. The Main
computer interacts between the Communication processor and
Workstation computers. It collects the formatted RTU information
from Communication processor and sends the processed
information to the Operating Workstation (OWS) computers which
enable users to understand field conditions. The Main computer
also responds to the requests of the OWS computer which receives
commands from Traction Power controller. Then this information
is formatted and sent to the communications processor. The Main
computer also updates available information with slave computer
which should have the same information. Whenever the Main
computer fails, then the Slave will become Main with the updated
The Communication Processors (CP) and Workstation Computers
are server grade.
B. Remote Terminal Unit
RTU is designed to control and monitor field equipment. It acts as
the common interface between the field devices and the Remote
Control Centre of the system. It is designed to be flexible, modular
and reliable making it easy to maintain and easy to expand. It
accepts digital and analog input signals from the remote field
equipment. It receives the control commands from the RCC. RTU
can be divided into five parts:
• Logic Chassis
• Interface Unit
• Transducers
• Modem
• Power Supply Unit
PSU consists of two parts, one for main 24V DC supply and the
other is (5V, 12V, -12V) for Modem and Interface Card reference
The Logic Chassis is the main part of RTU and is based on
the microprocessor. It is used to control and process all field
The Interface Unit receives and controls the field signal devices.
Transducers which are part of the Interface Unit are used to convert
the field analog signals like voltage and current.
Modem is used to convert the digital information to analog
information suitable for four wire based communication cable
and vice versa in the FSK & PSK mode.
Termination Section is used to interconnect the field cables and
RTU internal cables to perform the control and supervisory
operation at the field.
RTU accepts digital and analog signals from the remote locations
(TSS/SP/SSP) and receives the control command from the RCC
to perform the following tasks:
Status input monitoring and change of status
International Journal of Computer Science And Technology
ISSN : 0976-8491 (Online) | ISSN : 2229-4333 (Print)
• Control Output Operation
• Analog input monitoring
• Communication with the RCC
RTU is designed to be flexible, modular and reliable making it easy
to maintain and expand. And highly integrated microprocessor
based system, coupled with firmware programming allows
the RTU to perform sophisticated control and data acquisition
functions. RTU system can be configured for a wide variety of I/O
mix which can be configured and expanded as required in the field.
The configuration of an RTU is stored in a non-volatile memory
and may be edited or expanded without hardware changes. RTU
provides basic functions:
• Data acquisition for status input and analog input
• Control outputs
• RTU/Master station communications
V. Functional Description of SCADA System
The SCADA System, from RCC enables the Traction Power
Controller (TPC) to control the 5kV traction power supply to
the OHE. It also monitors and operates on various equipment
attraction sub-stations that are located enroute [5]. The SCADA
System for Traction Power Control consists of two major parts:
Main and Standby Computers, Work Station computers,
Communication processors are connected in the LAN set up and
Powered through UPS with battery back up at RCC.
Remote Terminal Units (RTU) for acquisition of field parameters
from the unmanned control stations along the traction network.
The RCC and RTUs are connected in Wide Area Network (WAN).
The RCC Computers communicate with each RTU in a predefined
sequence over the WAN to acquire information regarding status
of CB or interrupters, alarm condition in a controlled station and
measurand values.
The Main and Standby computers are server grade. The Main
Computer interacts between the Communication processor and
Workstation computers. It collects the formatted RTU information
from CP and sends the processed information to the Operating
Workstation (OWS) computers which enable users to understand
field conditions. The Main computer also responds to the requests
of the OWS computer which receives the commands from the
Traction power controller. Then this information will be formatted
and sent to the Communication processor. The Main computer also
updates the available information with the slave computer which
should have the same information. The Communication processors
and Workstation computers are also server grade.
The Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) acts as the common interface
between the field devices and Remote Control Centre of the System.
The RTU is designed to be flexible, modular and reliable, making
it easy to maintain and easy to expand. It is highly integrated
microprocessor based logic system coupled with firmware
programming, which allows the RTU to perform sophisticated
control and data acquisition functions. The RTU accepts digital
and analog input signals from Remote locations (TSS / SP / SSP)
and receives the control command information from the RCC to
perform the following tasks:
• Status input monitoring and change of status
• Control output operation
• Analog input monitoring
• Communication with RCC
The term Telecommand is used in Indian Railways to give output
and sense of status feedback for the particular device. Each
Telecommand represents two digital outputs and corresponding
two digital inputs.
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VI. Maintenance of SCADA System
In the event of failure of the system, it is recommended to identify
the faulty printed circuit card and replace the card with a working
card. This recommendation is based on the complexity of trouble
shooting and technology used for mounting of component as
The system is based on the microprocessor technology where
almost every component has a very high level of integration. The
components perform multiple functions as the level of integration
is high.
Therefore, the component has to be tested for all its intended
functions to conclude whether it is faulty. The testing engineer
should know each and every function of the component under
test and testing methods. Hence, component level troubleshooting
needs a specialist with special tools.
The components are soldered to the printed circuit card with
surface mounting technology. Removal of faulty components
from the card and soldering new component on to it also needs a
skilled person with special and expensive tools. These tools are
generally used only in a production centre.
Maintenance of SCADA Systems may be classified into two as
preventive and corrective maintenance. Preventive maintenance
is to reduce the number of failures and corrective maintenance to
put back a failed system into operation.
As high voltage is used in operations of the system, hence
extreme care should be taken when performing maintenance or
troubleshooting to prevent accidental electric shocks.
IJCST Vol. 5, SPL - 1, Jan - March 2014
Mr. Ananya Chandra is a final year student
of B.Tech in Computer Science at The LNM
Institute of Information Technology, Jaipur,
India. He has done internships at Technical
Department of Indian Railways & Hindustan
Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL).
VII. Acknowledgement
Authors are grateful to the Director, LNMIIT, Jaipur and
authorities of Indian Railways for helping out in preparation of
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Acquisition, ISA-The Instrumentation, Systems, and
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[2] “Traction Power” [Online] Available: http://www.
[3] Anonymous,"Indian Railway Technical Bulletin, Vol.
LXVI, No 333, Government of India, Ministry of Indian
[4] Garitano I, Uribeetxeberria R., Zurutuza U.,"A Review of
SCADA Anomaly Detection Systems", In proceeding of:
Soft Computing Models in Industrial and Environmental
Applications, 6th International Conference SOCO 2011, 6-8
April, 2011, Salamanca, Spain.
[5] “Functional Description and Specifications”, [Online].
Available: http://www.rdso.indianrailways.gov.in/works/
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