Delay in power switch dogs Central Railway

MUMBAI: Central Railway’s (CR) power-conversion project to change from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) has failed to gain traction although its deadline was extended on numerous occasions. Central Railway’s DC-AC power conversion project has failed to gain traction even though the deadline has been revised on numerous occasions in the past.

The switchover is the key to improving energy conservation and the performance of suburban and long-distance trains. While Western Railway (WR) effected the turnaround in February 5, 2012, CR stretches-Kalyan-Thane and Thane-LTT (fifth and sixth line)-are yet to be converted to AC.

The authorities have failed to get their act together. Commissioner of Railway Safety (Central Circle) Chetan Bakshi has insisted on implementation of a few crucial things before granting a clearance.” said a CR official. The then Union railway minister had announced that CR would be able to complete the DC-AC conversion by March 31, 2013 end of financial year 2012-13. However, four months after the March deadline passed, CR is struggling to switch to AC even up to LTT. Many officials concede that the railway board’s electrical directorate has done a botched job. Some officials also resent the intervention of the commissioner of railway safety (CRS), others claim that the queries raised by him are “relevant”.

“The CRS has refused to budge from his stand as he does not want to compromise on safety. His main concerns are lack of adequate gap between the overhead wire and the roof of foot overbridges, road overbridges and the Parsik tunnel. Many officials are also wary of undertaking the switchover work in monsoon,” a CR official said. For the stretch below the FOBS and ROB, CRS is happy to grant approval provided the CR authorities obtain clearance from the railway board. However, at Parsik tunnel, he has refused to grant approval unless adequate gap is maintained between OHE and base of the roof.

An official said, “A height of the 4.69 meter between the railway level and the OHE wire has to be maintained in AC section. CRS has found that the OHE wires at 70 meters in the tunnel are at an increased height. CRS has fears that Pantographs will graze against the tunnels surface, thus affecting operations and also safety

The only solution is to lower the tracks keeping into factor the maximum moving dimension of a train. His fears are not unfounded as 25 pantographs as many as 8 trains were damaged after grazing the tunnel surface for similar reason in May 2013.These trains were withdrawn from services, leading to major disruption on CR.

A CR official said, “We have taken a block on Sunday to lower the tracks so concerns raised by CRS are addressed. An inspection by CRS will be carried out in next couple of weeks.”

Officials feel they can clear the hurdles.

“We hope to switching to AC from Kalyan to LTT by August-end,” said CR public relations officer Atul Rane.

i. The project, the cost

CR has yet to switch to 25 KV Alternating Current between Kalyan-CST and Panvel-CST, spanning across 1,681-km tracks.

Cost: Rs 796 crore

ii. Original deadline

March 2012-13

Sept 2012: Kalyan-Thane-LTT stretch

iii. Revised deadline

May 2013: Revised deadline for Kalyan-Thane and Thane-LTT section.

iv. The problem

Since the section will switch to AC, adequate gap has to be maintained between base of the bridge/tunnel and the Over Head Wires. CRS, central circles wants this to be sorted out as he feels that inadequate height can lead to operations problems.

v. How it will improve your ride

Apart from energy savings, CR will be able to add more services because of improved speed while the maximum speed under the DC system is 80 kmph, AC-compatible rakes can clock 100 kmph.

Currently, AC compatible locomotives cannot ply south of Kalyan, while DC locomotive cannot run North of this station. Around 44 long distance trains that leave from LTT everyday have to spend 20 minutes on an average at Igatpuri or Bhusaval to change the locomotive. On switching to AC, mail/express trains will make savings of this many minutes.

– Courtesy: TOI