Central Railway to lower tracks for DC/AC switch

मुंबई Mumbai: Central Railway finding no way to lift some British-era steel bridges between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Kurla to facilitate conversion of its electrical systems from 1,500 Volt Direct Current to 25,000 Volt Alternating Current, is planning to do the next best thing. It will be spending more than Rs 70 lakh to lower the tracks at several places between these two stations to compensate for the inability to lift the bridges.

Among these bridges are the Carol bridge over Parel-Elphinstone and the Currey Road bridge — both over 100 years old and important east-west road connectors, which, if disturbed, can lead to large-scale traffic disruptions in the city, said officials.

While the short-cut of lowering tracks will allow CR to convert from DC to AC and it will be able to run faster and higher number of local and outstation trains, a fairly large section of railway officials said that lowering tracks in a network that is flood-prone is never a good idea. CR plans to start the work of lowering the tracks by June, said officials.

As reported earlier, AC traction requires a greater gap between the overhead wires and the roof of the train because of the higher power. The non-lifting of these bridges would have meant that once the conversion from DC to AC gets completed, the height available for trains coming out of CST would be just 4.265 metres. Trains that have LHB coaches have a height of 4.381 metres. Currently, due to DC traction, the height available for trains is 4.710 metres. This would mean that all new trains in the future would start from LTT in Kurla. It’s to avoid this scenario and to ensure that CST maintains its primacy, the tracks are being lowered so that a safe height is maintained and all kinds of trains can be used at CST.

However, the naysayers are pointing to another issue that might come to haunt CR and that too maybe as early as the coming monsoon. Out of a total fleet of 105 rakes that CR has, 65 are older rakes which have a lesser ability to combat water-logging than the newer Siemens rakes. While the newer rakes can manage to run even if the water level is around 175 millimetres above the rails, the older rakes tend to get flooded and marooned if the water level reaches 125mm, said officials.

“Lowering of tracks will increase the problems related to water entering the train equipment, especially among old rakes,” said an official.