40 new Bombardier Rakes too ‘tall’ to run in Mumbai

मुंबई Mumbai: A design gone wrong spells bad news for Central Railway commuters. The much-touted Bombardier rakes that were supposes to replace the worn- out old rakes will not be able to operate as they are taller, posing problems once the system switches from direct current to alternating current traction.

Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) had ordered 72 of these new-age electrical multiple units (EMUs) in 2011 at a cost of Rs 3,041 crore. Forty were to operate on CR’s suburban system and 32 on WR’s.

A senior CR official, “The maximum height of the coach should be 4.27 metres for the rakes to operate on CR. The BT rakes’ height is around 4.29 metres. It will not be possible to operate them on CR.”

Their shells were to be manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, and the electrical fittings provided by Bombardier Transportation (BT). The prototype trials were scheduled to be completed by May this year, but have now run into the fresh hurdle.

CR will switch from 1,500V DC current to 25KV alternating current. The higher the height of the rake, the closer it will bring the overhead equipment (OHE) wires to the surface of the bridges when it comes in contact with the train’s pantograph.

A CR official said, “We cannot lower the height of the tracks nor can we raise the height of bridges. The only option is to run the Siemens rakes.”

A senior railway official blamed the problem on “inefficiency”. He said, “Either the MRVC or the Research, Design & Standards Organisation (RDSO) should have ensured that the BT rakes do not exceed the height of the Siemens ones.”

CR operates services on the suburban section with 51 Siemens rakes, nine BHEL, two retrofitted rakes and 12 direct current (DC) compatible rakes.

A CR official said, “We will have to hand over the BT rakes to WR, in exchange for the Siemens ones. The BT rakes have not got the approval of the commissioner of railway safety almost 14 months after two prototypes arrived in Mumbai.” He said, “If there is further delay in the supply of BT rakes, it can create problems for the smooth running of trains on CR, as most of our rakes are old, and will have to phased out soon.”