Friday, April 11, 2014

Need for speed: WR to pull out ‘tortoise trains’

Need for speed: WR to pull out ‘tortoise trains’
The 13 tortoise trains will be refurbished at the WR’s Mahalaxmi yard
The Western Railway (WR) has said that the 13 old trains causing delays on its suburban network will be pulled out and sent for refitting to improve speed.

Mumbai Mirror had reported last week the problems affecting the WR's timetable, which has plunged into chaos due to delays and cancellations (13 'tortoise trains' derail WR timetable, MM, April 5).

The WR control room staffers have blamed the problem on 13 old rakes, which are also being used as fast trains but are unable to crank up speeds beyond 60 kmph, thereby delaying all 1,305 daily trips on the Churchgate-Virar-Dahanu stretch.

On both WR and CR suburban networks, fast trains run at around 80 kmph between the halts, but shortage of trains is forcing the WR to continue with the 13 'tortoise trains' on its fast network.

A senior WR official said on Thursday that the railway top brass has decided to upgrade the 13 trains and they will be reintroduced only after clearing speed trials.

"The trains will be pulled out in phases and sent to the Mahalaxmi yard for refurbishing. The trains will then be tested for speed on the Kalyan-Karjat stretch," a senior WR official said.

The railway officials refused to come on record citing the election model code of conduct, but a WR source said that the railway top brass decided there cannot be a compromise on punctuality.

The WR has a fleet of 84 trains for 1,305 trips on the Churchgate-Virar-Dahanu route every day. Of the 84 trains, 68 are the new-age Siemens rakes and six have been manufactured by France-headquartered Alstom Transport.

The 13 tortoise trains, manufactured by ICF, Chennai and Jessop, Kolkata, are at least 20 years old and were refitted and upgraded barely a few months ago.

"Once these trains are upgraded, they will be able to crank up speeds up to 80 kmph and will last at least another 15 years," a WR official said.

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