Mumbai: The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) is unlikely to keep its deadline for carrying out the most vital part of conversion of harbour from 9-coach to 12-coach.
The work, which requires at least a 72-hour block between Vadala and CST, was scheduled to start on Christmas day which falls on Friday and go on over the weekend, just in time to wrap up before the office rush on Monday morning. A senior official said, “Ideally, MRVC could have done the work over the Christmas weekend because, no such time frame is available for months after that. It is during this time that many people go out of the city for short trips and there is less rush in local trains.”
The delay comes after MRVC botched up the harbour block on October 26. The block that was taken between Kurla and CST was already declared for six hours, which is more than the usual four hours.
Due to some technical problems, that Sunday, the block was not opened for a good eight-and-a-half hours, resulting in cancellation of more than 30 trains and delay in 150 services.
MRVC officials said that after this block-burst, CR was not open to giving any more blocks but divisional railway manager Amitabh Ojha said that they would consider the request once it was sent. “Right now, no request has come from MRVC but we are open to giving a block,” he said.
Harbour line is long overdue for conversion to 12-coach because of overcrowding and commuter footfall growing by almost 70 per cent in the last five years, according to CR statistics.
CIDCO claims 12-Car Trains to be operational by 2017, CR says they could run as early as 2016
If claims made by the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) are to be believed then very soon, the long pending demand of Harbour line commuters — for improving the system — could become a reality.
CIDCO, under its smart city project, has said that people travelling between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai will get 12-car trains by 2017. CIDCO, in its smart city brochure, has said that new 12-car trains will run by 2017. However, railway authorities say the service will start by early 2016.
“Delays in the project so far are from the railways’ side. The station extension work is complete in Navi Mumbai. Our role is to only assist financially, while railways will construct the entire infrastructure. CIDCO is lending Rs 298 crore for the project, out of which Rs 28 crore have been already released. Depending upon the financial requirement from railways, CIDCO will keep on releasing the funds for the project,” said a senior official from CIDCO.
The approximately R600 crore project would be shared in 50:50 ratio between CIDCO and Central Railway. The 10 lakh people who travel on the Harbour line have been demanding an improvement in the system. The nine-car trains have been running since years now and many of them are nearly 20 years old.
The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) is struggling to get dates from CR while they are chalking out plans that would increase the carrying capacity by more than 3 lakh.
To begin with, the Harbour line that connects Mumbai with the satellite city of Navi Mumbai with 583 services everyday is run using 36 trains. Now the work for augmenting capacity by 33 percent is underway and major technical work needs to be carried out at Wadala and further south.
Earlier in November the MRVC had carried out a mega block at Wadala. “The work at Wadala is quite complicated. There are six points that need to be shifted, of which two points have been done, rest will be done shortly,” said Prabhat Ranjan, chief PRO, MRVC. ‘Point’ is what allows trains to crisscross from one track to the other. These points need to be shifted so that the platforms can be extended and signal poles be rehabilitated accordingly for running 12-car trains.
Sources said that plans are being made to hold a mega block of at least 8 hours for December 19-20 when the pending work at Wadala will be completed. Now peripheral arrangements for shifting signal poles and extending platform length are being made. And during the block every thing shall be implemented including realignment of the rail track and the overhead wires.
“We have not received a written request seeking permission for a mega block until now,” said a senior Central Railway (CR) official on condition of anonymity. Meanwhile the CR authorities are making temporary plans of improving the Harbour line by introducing Siemens local trains.
“We are working towards getting Siemens trains for the Harbour line and at least three trains could be expected,” said a CR official. These are a comparatively newer lot of trains whose procurement began in 2007. Currently they are operating BHEL and retrofitted trains on Harbour line.
Chennai Floods hit arrival of new rakes
Floods in South India have affected the arrival of new Bombardier railway rakes of MUTP Phase 3. Under MUTP Phase 3, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) is bringing 72 rakes of the Bombardier company from Integral Coach Factory ( ICF) at Chennai to run on the Western Railway lines. Since Chennai routes were affected, rakes from ICF Chennai arrived late in the week, said an official from the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC).
“The rake arrived on November 19. It was delayed due to heavy rainfall in South India. By now, we got 10 Bombardier rakes in the city. Nine have been commissioned in the Western Railw”y,” said a senior official from MRVC”
“It is affecting the arrival of Bombardier rakes. Also, water has entered ICF at Chennai where Bombardier rakes are manufactur”d,” he added. The new age Bombardier rakes, brought to Mumbai in October 2013, were not inducted into the Western Railway (WR) fleet and was flagged off on March 19, 2015 after approval of the Railway Board.
‘If level crossings go, 100 more CR services for Thane-Kalyan’
Railways have the potential to introduce 100 more services in the over-crowded belt between Thane and Kalyan, provided the state government helps in elimination of level-crossing gates and speeds up execution of fifth and sixth lines between Thane and Diva.
As against 611 services for Dombivli and 550 for Kalyan, CR is able to run only 430 services for Kalva, Mumbra, Diva and Kopar stations. At Thakurli, the number of services stands at a mere 369.
In 2011, CR converted all services to 12 cars, besides introducing 15-car services. As a result, the number of coaches has increased by 16 per cent from 2010. Comparatively, the number of coaches in Thane and Kalyan have increased by 10 per cent and by 12 per cent in Dombivli since 2010.
A senior CR official said, “Elimination of level crossings should be given priority,” further explaining, “In the late ’90s, flyovers began to spring up across the city to reduce congestion at intersections. Similarly, we need to build overbridges and eliminate level crossings, which affect the punctuality.”
On an average, these level crossing gates are opened 80 times between 2-4 minutes. Between Kalyan-Diva, there are six lines and it impacts punctuality in the slow, fast and long-distance corridors.”
He added, “What we need is infusion of more services in Kalva-Diva belt to reduce overcrowding. This will also partly eliminate the problem of accidents due to falling from train, witnessed in large numbers in this belt.”
On September 28, Bhavesh Nakate (21), whose accidental death video had gone viral, had fallen off a crowded moving local between Diva and Kopar stations.
The official said, “Our focus is primarily on introduction of new services in this belt. Last time, when the timetable was revised, we had introduced 14 services in Kalva-Kopar, 23 in Dombivli and 27 in Kalyan and beyond. Still, the problem of overcrowding persists.”
The Thane-Diva fifth and sixth lines project, expected to bring relief, has also been delayed due to political interference. A senior MRVC official said, “The relief and rehabilitation issue is not yet resolved as some politicians want alternate accommodation for those who are not eligible. The project was supposed to get over in June this year, but it now has a deadline of December 2017.”