Central Railway’s Power Switch Plan may get derailed

MUMBAI: Uncertainty prevailed over Central Railway’s plan to switch to 25KV Alternating Current (AC) traction from 1,500V Direct Current between Kalyan-Thane and Thane-LTT (fifth and sixth) line, this Sunday.

CR had planned the conversion this weekend as it felt that it had complied with all the directives issued by the commissioner of railway safety (CRS), Central Circle.

A CR official said, “We cannot go ahead with the switchover plan unless the CSR approval comes in writing.” The confidence stemmed from the fact that an inspection carried out by the CRS over the week was done without any hiccups.

The CRS’s primary task is to direct, advise and caution the railways administration through its inspectorial, investigatory and advisory functions. Though it falls under the administrative control of ministry of civil aviation, CRS takes its origin and discharges its duties as per the rules and regulations framed under the Railways Act.

A CR official said all conversion arrangements were in place in the hope that the approval will come any moment. “We will have to shut a few lines for a couple of hours to carry out the work. Commuters will be informed in advance. But, we cannot issue notices till the CRS gives its final nod.”

Both CR and the CRS are not willing to spell out the issues that have been holding up the conversion process. Central Circle’s CRS Chetan Bakshi said, “Discussions are on with CR officials. There is still enough time before Sunday.” CR’s public relations officer Atul Rane refused to elaborate, but said, “We are ready for conversion on the designated stretch.”

The conversion has already been delayed considerably as CR had carried out test charging on Kalyan-Thane and Thane-LTT stretch in Dec 2012.”

Thereafter, CR had raised concerns about the safety as he wanted the height of the track lowered inside Parsik tunnel to ensure that there is enough gap between the OHE and roof of tunnel.

The conversion this stretch will help speed up the long distance trains as they will not have to change for DC traction compatible locomotives coming to LTT.

Moreover, it will also help reduce failures as DC traction, being old, is more prone to failures.

The use of locomotives and Electrical Multiple units with AC technology will also lead to 33 per cent enery savings as they have regenerative braking system. It will help save around Rs 120 crore per annum due to reduced transmission loss and regenerative braking system.