An administrative gaffe has resulted in over 100 railway bogies the steel frame on which the wheels and suspension are attached and coach mounted brought for retrofitment of old coaches,lying unused at the Mahalaxmi workshop of Western Railway. These bogies were supplied from a railway workshop in Hubli,Karnataka,despite objections from officers that they are incompatible with coaches in need of retrofitment.
The bogies are compatible only with the conventional coaches made at Integral Coach Factory (ICF),Chennai and the Western railway does not have any ICF coaches. We can obtain old ICF coaches from the Central Railway that may go with these bogies. To do this,we need the approval of the Railway Board; Else,the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) should permit some modification in the design. We will send these bogies to ICF Chennai if these dont happen, a Western Railway official said.
This is not the first gaffe by railway officials,either. The Western Railway had recently procured 28 coaches from Howrah without realising that the coaches were not compatible with the formation the positioning of compartments to which its commuters are used to. These coaches will now be sent back to Howrah as their remodelling would require a major effort besides incurring a huge expense.
It is practically impossible to use these bogies in coaches other than those they are intended for as they will have different technical parameters. The bogies procured from the Hubli workshop are meant for conventional coaches with helical spring suspension while the RDSO has recently brought in a technological breakthrough in air spring suspension.
Retrofitment will help extend the life of aging coaches by another 15 years,thus adding to services at a fraction of cost incurred in purchasing new coaches.
As these bogies cannot be put to use,nobody knows what could be done about them. The decision to procure them has certainly caused loss to railways, a Western Railway officer said.
The decision to order air spring suspension bogies for retrofitment was made with an understanding that the task would be undertaken by Siemens. The Western Railway later decided to do the work itself but the decision to procure air spring suspension bogies was not changed.