By September, commuters in Mumbai’s local trains may not have to sweat much, as the railway authorities are likely to launch the city’s first air-conditioned rake prototype on the Western Railway (WR). In a press interaction with the Railway Board officials on Monday, Ravindra Gupta, Member, Rolling Stock, Railway Board, said, “We witnessed many problems with the train, manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited( BHEL), after it first came to the city last April. While trials on the rake are on, the first one will rolled out in September 2017.”
The railways will procure nine more such rakes from the board after one has been put to use. Officials said the other rakes will run on either the Central Railway (CR) or the WR, depending on the need. “We will get nine more of these rakes from the BHEL. As the first rake was too tall for certain road-over-bridges on the CR, we have given the required corrections needed in the height of the other rakes. Whether they will run on the Central or the Western Railway will be decided later,” Gupta said.
Work is on to fix the fare of the new rakes. “We are taking suggestions from other transport organisations to decide what the fare model of the rake could be,” said Mohammed Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board. Gupta added that a master plan was being prepared to increase the holding capacity of rail yards to contain the new coaches.
To this end, the city may get more railway yards, or the capacity of the existing yards may be increased. Officials also confirmed that plans are underway to manufacture more rakes and coaches which would match the increased demand of passengers. “We agree that we have fallen short of providing adequate number of services to match the demand of commuters. We are working towards manufacturing more rakes and coaches,” said A K Mittal, Chairman, Railway Board.
Mittal added that the environmental and social impact study for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train will be completed in the next two months. After that, the Japan International Corporation Association (JICA) will be requested for loan. “We have shared the design of the first station of Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). We are not behind schedule as far as completing the technical stages of the rake is concerned,” said Mittal.
Gupta said that production of coaches of the older design will be suspended by the end of 2017. By 2018, each old coach in Indian Railways will be replaced by LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) coaches, considered safer. “After producing 2,123 coaches in 2017-18, we will be producing 3,100 LHB coaches in 2018-19. With more facilities like mobile charging points and other passenger incentives included in the new rakes, we will slowly phase out old coaches from railways,” said Gupta.
Mittal said they have asked Talgo company to work on certain technical changes in the body design of its rake for convenience of suburban traffic.
The Spanish made high-speed rakes could run from Mumbai to different cities, including to Ahmedabad.Talgo had conducted six trails of its prototype rake between Mumbai and Delhi last year. “We have observed that certain technical revisions are needed in the rake to make it suitable for the suburban section of the Mumbai railway network. We have requested the same from them before re-consideration,” Mittal added.