Trials on automatic doors in suburban train coaches revealed that it was unsuitable during peak hours. The system of automatic doors will prevent it from closing if a person or object comes in its way. Failure to close the door automatically in the third attempt will lead to power cut in the entire train. According to officials, this would cause more problems as trains would be delayed frequently during peak hours.
Nearly a month ago, automatic door was installed on coach number 93,498, which was stationed at Mahalaxmi workshop for retro-fitment work. This rake was one of the three coaches selected for installation of the facility.
“More than 20,000 static trials of closing and shutting doors have been done. Now, it is confirmed that in existing trains, an automatic door system is feasible, but in peak hours, when a lot of commuters are travelling and hanging from the foot-board, how can the automatic door system may work?’’ questioned a railway official.
Officials from France-based Faiveley Transport Company, Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, and Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow, visited Mumbai for inspection. Western Railway officials were in touch with Faiveley Transport Company, which is an expert in manufacturing closed doors. The design and technique for the automatic door system has been provided by Faiveley, which has an office in Hosar, Tamil Nadu.
O P Mishra, engineer at Faiveley Transport Company, said, “One month ago, our officials were in Mumbai to check the feasibility of the system in the existing rakes. One door was put in this coach temporarily and some static trials were conducted. But recently, this door was permanently installed and a simulator had been regulating the system. Later, open and shut commands will be given by train operators.’’
According to the current system, if a passenger comes in its way, the automatic door will not close for three seconds, but if there is an obstacle for the third time, power will be off, delaying the train.
“If anyone has experienced travelling in trains during peak hours, he can well understand that in such a situation, it will be difficult to run trains smoothly,” said a railway official, who did not wish to be named.
He added that it would cost around Rs 4 crore to fit the automatic doors in one rake of 12 cars. “It will be difficult for the cash-strapped railways to spend so much,” he said.
World Bank-funded project may be tweaked
In June, the Railway Board asked the Western Railway to conduct a pilot project to introduce automatic doors. Earlier this year, S K Sood, general manager of Central Railways, had asked the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to ensure that 70 new rakes, which are expected to arrive under the World Bank-funded Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) phase-II, have automatic door closing facility to prevent people from falling off crowded trains.
But it now seems that the 70 rakes are not going to have the facility as demanded earlier by zonal railway officers in the city. In Mumbai recently, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said the railways would ensure that new contracts for local trains would incorporate the door closing feature. The MRVC had expressed its helplessness, citing contractual obligations and a further delay in the arrival of trains.