Ponmalai Golden Rock (GOC): Rail users’ associations charge that usually the new coaches are first allotted to other zones in the country. After some years, those coaches are transferred here with wear and tear.
P Edward Jeni, secretary of Kanyakumari District Rail Users Associations (KKDRUA), points out the example of the Madurai – Duronto Express train coaches, which are more than 15 years old and were used on the Rajdhani Express earlier.
“Another constraint is the poor maintenance. The coach maintenance unit in Perambur (Chennai) is not able to maintain the coaches as there are no adequate staff,” he said. “This is the right time the railways should establish a coach maintenance unit in Golden Rock, Trichy, to cater the maintenance works of the coaches,” he suggested.
An official at the Golden Rock workshop told that there remained a perennial shortage of coaches in the Indian Railways as new trains were being introduced but there are not enough coach factories to supply them. For instance, 19 trains have been introduced in the new budget, but the availability of coaches would be a huge problem leading to delay in implementation.
However, the good news is that the Rail Coach Factory at Lalganj near Rae Bareli is almost complete while the Palakkad project has been delayed due to some land acquisition problem. “However, once these two factories go on steam, the problem of coach shortage would be surmounted,” the official said. At present, the workshop undertakes repairs of old coaches and at any given time there would be around 80 coaches under repair.
He said that the life of a coach is 25 years and after they are condemned, new coaches must be made available to replace them in equal pace. Moreover, there are no spare coaches available these days because of the huge demand to have new trains, he added.
A senior railway official confided that most of the recent rail accidents in the country occurred because of the rickety, almost-condemnable coaches that lost their wheel alignments with the tracks. These accidents were primarily blamed on the bad condition of coaches that had outlived their utility, but still continued for want of new ones.