July 13, 2009 4:06:49 am
Long-distance trains have an important halt in Mumbai,at the WRs automated coach washing plant in Bandra
When they come to Mumbai,having traversed thousands of miles through grimy towns and dusty fields,there is one place the grubby long-distance trains make an important pit-stop at,for a thorough scrubdown before they leave Mumbai.
This is the Railways automatic coach washing plant at Bandra Terminus coaching depot,a first for Western Railway and commissioned on October 29 last year,at the cost of Rs 29,42,000,designed,erected and commissioned by an engineering firm based in Karwar,Karnataka.
While the coaching depot was constructed in 1992,washing of trains was done manually until last year. Now,three washing stations in the form of arches house trains with water and soap solution storage tanks provided in a pump house that supplies high pressure water and soap solution spray.
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To wash a train,its backed up at a speed of 3 kmph and as soon as the train moves,water is sprayed on the coaches at the entry point of the washing line. Then soap solution and water are sprayed on the roofs even as one set of horizontal brushes rolls and cleans the roof and one set of vertical brushes loosens the dirt from both sides of the train. As the train moves further,it passes through the final cleaning and rinsing station where three sets of high pressure spray nozzles clean the dirt and rinse the coach.
Prakash Ratan,the mechanical engineer at the coaching depot,says: This is not only a time saving device but water consumption is also less than half now. The automatic washing plant consumes 4,200 litres of water per rake while manually,we used about 9,600 litres per rake. Earlier,the time required for washing of one rake of 24 coaches was around two to three hours. Now,we need is only 15 to 20 minutes. Also,now only one staff member is required for washing a rake of 24 coaches,while earlier 15 persons were deputed for the same work.
The coaching depot at Bandra Terminus works round the clock,with 580 staff members working in shifts,24 hours a day. There are also three pits meant for mechanical works on 24-coach trains.
Ratan says,Daily,11 primary trains,one secondary train and 10 other trains are attended by coaching and wagon staff of this coaching depot. And if there is any defect in a coach,this is sent to the sick line for repair works.
Three types of long distance trains come in here. The primary trains that belong to WR and usually follow a maintenance schedule. Secondary trains are those that do not belong to WR,but are washed,cleaned and maintained here. The last type are those returned from platforms,not really maintained but cleaned thoroughly.
Some staff are especially trained for operating the automatic washing plant too. Pramod Bhalchandra Patil is one of them,operating every system from a control cabin. Having joined WR in 2005,he says,Ive been doing this work for the past nine months. Its enjoyable work,since I basically belong to the electrical department.
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