Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday asked the general managers of Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) to improve punctuality of trains and assured the two zonal railway heads of his support from the Railway Board. The directives were following repeated disruptions, including derailments, witnessed on CR in the past few months.
The new railway minister directed the suburban railway authorities to make a time-bound plan to address concerns of commuters and expedite the traction conversion work of Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) between Thane and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on Central Railway (CR).
The traction conversion work is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The work is being undertaken to increase the speed of the trains, save time in changing engines of long distance trains and save energy.
Prabhu also discussed the repeated disruptions on CR owing to lack of maintenance and outdated equipment, and directed General Manager S K Sood to finish Kalyan yard remodelling at a war-footing, setting a November 30 deadline to restore maximum train speed in the section. Several derailments reported at Kalyan have led to a speed restriction in the section that has been primarily responsible for delays in services.
With many technical problems at Kalyan yard, which caters to 900 trains daily, CR recently contracted 200 labourers and deputed 100 departmental track maintainers.
“Since November 1, strengthening of assets has been given special attention between Thane-Kalyan section and at Kalyan yard. All the Sunday mega blocks have been availed in this section only. Additionally, short duration blocks on Saturdays and special night blocks have been granted for track renewal work,” said a CR spokesperson.
About 300 Permanent Way staff were diverted from other divisions of CR for about a fortnight to attend arrears of track maintenance.
Apart for addressing issues of CR, the minister also met the general manager of WR. “The minister reviewed the suburban system and asked us to complete various works in a time-bound manner. Among some of the works, he discussed the work related to raising platform height,” said Hemant Kumar, General Manager, WR, adding that WR had requested for Rs 5 crore for the first phase of the project. The total project costing Rs 38crore is being undertaken in three phases.
Railway officials said Prabhu and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis were apprised about the pending work on the road-over-bridge near Jogeshwari station on WR that had stalled the completion of Oshiwara station for over a year now.
Prabhu also met Konkan railway authorities and promised to give Rs 250 crore to the zonal railways for various works on its route. All the authorities have been asked to submit a plan at the earliest.
CR aims to erect retaining wall at Sandhurst before next monsoon
After repeated disruptions during monsoons this year and many reminders by local activists about the precarious boundary wall along railway tracks near Sandhurst Road station, the Central Railway (CR) has finally decided to construct a 75-m retaining wall along the slow line towards Thane.
With two wall collapses threatening safety of railway passengers during monsoon this year, the administration has decided to have a long-term solution for its railway tracks that are too close to the boundary walls at Sandhurst Road station.
The CR has called for tenders to construct the wall along the down slow line for Rs 93.93 lakh. The administration has a target to complete the wall before the next monsoons to avoid any further incident along the tracks.
According to a railway officer, there were about 19 rooms still that had to be vacated by the civic body before work on the retaining wall could be started.
“Most of the work will be done at night as services cannot be halted on the line for long. It will be difficult and dangerous for workers to construct the retaining wall if services continue as there is hardly any space along the tracks to stand,” said a senior railway officer.
After the collapses, the CR had constructed Gabian structures and put wire mesh to prevent a landslide along tracks during rains as an interim measure.
The railway tracks running slow services towards Thane, along Sandhurst Road station are very close to the boundary wall. Apart from dilapidated structures next to the boundary wall, there were illegal encroachments on the wall itself, which were cited as a threat to safety of trains. In July, two wall collapses were reported, disrupting services on the line. In August 2010, a similar wall collapse was reported, following which the CR had constructed a retaining wall in the portion that collapsed.