High-speed train bought from Austria in 2011 for Rs.60 Cr lies wasted in Mumbai yard

Astria Trainमुंबई Mumbai: A high-speed train bought from Austria for Rs 60 crore in 2011 to be introduced on the Churchgate-Dahanu route has become a virtual piece of junk. The train, which is capable of hitting 140 kmph, has been cannibalised in the three years it has been lying on platform 14 of the Mumbai Central car shed, with the railways stripping it of lights, fans, seats and electrical equipment as replacements for other running trains.  Capable of hitting 140 kph, the train would have helped bolster choked networks.  The train would have covered the Churchgate-Dahanu distance, which now takes 4 hours, in 3 hours. At such speeds, five extra services in each direction could have been added to the network.

The train is also blocking the introduction of five more rakes to the network. When the MRVC-1181 Siemens train was ordered, the trials were supposed to be conducted within three months and officials had prepared the ground to order four more trains if they were satisfied with the prototype’s performance. But now, officials are not sure if the train can be used at all even if it clears the trials.

The train, which was made in Austria with a bolster-less suspension that will ensure a jerk-free ride, was procured by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation under the Rs 4,500-crore World Bank-funded Mumbai Urban Transport Project-1.

Worse, recent months have seen both Central and Western Railways, which are struggling to put enough AC-DC trains on the tracks, desperately flog some life out of trains that are way past their designated shelf life. The recent months have also seen an increasing number of accidents, some of which have had to do with the trains’ age.

Insiders said the problem lay in technical issues with the bogies, which they said were not compatible with the Indian rail structure. With no department ready to take the blame, they have all been passing the buck and made the asset a junk at last.

Sources said if the safety departments stick their neck out and declare the train unfit in its present form, efforts can then be made to introduce the bogies after modifying them locally. In fact, for the last seven months CR, which is short of trains, has been asking WR to give the Siemens train but they have not got any response.

“The project is still very much on,” said Rakesh Saksena, MRVC MD, when asked him if the train will ever run on Mumbai’s tracks. “There are certain decisions that need to be taken about its trials and the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) will take the decision shortly.”

RDSO is the Indian Railways’ Lucknow-based national technical advisory body for design, standardisation and maintenance. Sources in the RDSO said a string of changes at the top of the organisation, which was burdened with several important projects, has left the top brass with no time to put the Siemens train on trials.

RDSO’s ED (Power Supply and EMU), in-charge of local trains, Nasimuddin, however, insisted the project was alive. “The trials of the hi-speed train in Mumbai will be taken soon. But there is no time-frame that I can give you right now.”(Courtesy: Rajendra B Aklekar, Mumbai Mirror)