On account of growing concern about the safety of railway passengers on crowded locals, automatic doors is set for its debut in the next four months on the city’s suburban system, with the Western Railway (WR) already on its way to conduct trials at its Mahalaxmi Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) workshop.
On Tuesday, Union Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said, “In order to improve the safety of passengers, I propose to bring in technology for automatic closing of doors, both in main line and suburban coaches. A pilot project for limited number of trains will be taken up.”
The Railway Board, in June, asked the WR to conduct a pilot project to introduce automatic doors. “Automatic door closing without air-conditioning is possible. Initially, the facility will only be restricted to coaches reserved for women commuters,” said a senior railway officer.
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To reduce the discomfort of commuters in a closed-door train sans air-conditioning, the WR will introduce the automatic door closing feature on Siemens rakes, which have ‘forced ventilation’ system. Apart from forced ventilation, WR will also work to increase air-flow inside the trains through windows.
“An improved version of the better air-circulation system is also available on the new Bombardier rakes, which are undergoing trials. However, since the new rakes are yet to be commissioned, the EMU workshop has been asked to begin work on Siemens rakes,” added the officer.
While a 30-second halt time is provided on locals, it is estimated to go up by another 10 seconds after the door closing feature is introduced.
The discussion on closed door trains was renewed when S K Sood, General Manager of Central Railway (CR), demanded the system in the new Bombardier rakes.
“It is expensive as the railways will have to spend around Rs 5 crore – Rs 6 crore per rake to provide better ventilation and a vestibule system for accessibility. With fares being revised only by 14 per cent, there could be a shortage of funds,” Sood said after the budget announcement.
Semi-high speed corridor for Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Goa
In addition to running bullet trains between Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Mumbai-Goa, the CR and WR will soon initiate work to increase the speed of trains to 160-200 kmph to cut down travel time from Mumbai to Ahmedabad and Goa.
“While the overhead equipment already supports a speed of 160 kmph, tracks will require replacement. Work will also be done on crossovers to allow trains to cross at 60 kmph instead of the present 40 kmph,” said a WR officer.
Similar work will be under way by the CR and Konkan Railway for the Mumbai-Goa corridor.
Besides track improvement, both the zonal railways will require Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches to run the trains at 160 kmph.