Derailment of the CST-Ernakulam Duronto Express on May 3 and the logjam betweenWestern Railway and Central Railwayon repairing the rake has given therailways its very own ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ situation. It has got Northern Railway to part with 10 Duronto coaches to allow the CR to run the CST-Ernakulam service with the right kind of coaches.
Apart from the revenue loss it was incurring because of the lesser capacity of conventional coaches when compared to Duronto coaches, the CR was also getting inundated with complaints from commuters who were not too happy with the conventional coaches.
At the middle of this issue, say officials, is the short-shortsightedness of the railways, which designated that Duronto coaches, as well as LHB coaches, would be repaired and overhauled at the Lower Parel workshop. With a steady inflow of coaches for repair at the workshop and a capacity of repairing 42 coaches every month, any emergency like the derailment means the workshop is unable to alter its schedule to accommodate emergency cases.
Currently, just three of the damaged coaches have been taken in for repair at the workshop, while the other seven have been stabled at CR’s Dadar yard. For almost two months earlier, as the CR and WR were trying to thrash out the issue, the coaches were lying at Kalamboli yard.
“It sends a wrong signal about the working of the railway system. If the railways takes so much time to repair its new generation coaches like the Duronto and LHB, imagine the kind of backlog it will see when more and more trains get converted into LHB and Duronto coaches,” said a senior railway official.
The LHB overhaul problem
The railways had already decided that with the passage of time more and more of its coaches will be LHB. While these coaches come with greater passenger comfort and better riding qualities, their overhaul and repairs are a problem, and delays cause the railways heavy financial losses. As of now, these coaches can be overhauled only at the Lower Parel workshop in Mumbai, Liluah workshop in Howrah, West Bengal, and Jagadhri workshop in Yamunanagar, Haryana. Plans are afoot to build facilities for LHB overhaul at Lalguda workshop in Secunderabad in Telengana and Dibrugarh workshop in Assam.