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For detection I use "old fashioned" reed switches & magnets, although many people don't like them. Magnets on locos triggering reeds mounted in the centre of the track & magnets on the last vehicle of each train triggering reeds to one side of the track - that way you can get 100% failsafe block working, although only for trains left in rakes.

Which ever form of electronics you use should be reliable - the more likely cause of failure will probably be mechanical, such as point/point motors.
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