Spat over recommissioning of damaged Duronto Coaches; LHB rakes stabled at Kalamboli Yard for want of repair

Mumbai: More than 10 days after the 12223 Kurla LTT-Ernakulam Duronto derailed near Madgaon in Goa on May 3, the 10 damaged coaches continue to be stabled at Kalamboli yard because Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) cannot decide on how to go about checking, repairing and re-commissioning the coaches.

The damaged coaches are part of the railways’ LHB range and as mandated by the Railway Board, these type of coaches have to be overhauled or checked at Lower Parel workshop of WR. However, despite a recent upgrade of the workshop’s capacity WR officials off the record said that it might be some time before the damaged Duronto coaches get a look-in at Lower Parel. The workshop has a waiting list of its own.

What it means is that CR will have to run the Kurla LTT-Ernakulam Duronto express with either sleeper coaches — like it did on May 9 or cannibalise air-conditioned coaches from other trains in its fleet and assemble a makeshift Duronto rake.

“It is a huge loss to the railways because when we use sleeper coaches, we have to refund the excess fare to people. So, for the cash-strapped railways it is a situation where the passenger is willing to pay us for AC travel but we can only offer him sleeper class travel. When we take AC coaches from other rakes, then we have to run those with trains lesser number of AC coaches which is a hugely illogical move, especially during summer, when demand for AC travel is at its highest,” said a top-ranking railway official.

According to sources, CR’s Chief Operations Manager Mukul Marwah, WR’s Chief Mechanical Engineer Ravindra Gupta and officials of the Railway Board deliberated on the issue over the past couple of days but no solution has come up as yet. Queries sent by media to both the officials however went unanswered.

According to WR officials, a temporary arrangement it is contemplating is to have CR get the coaches checked- and repaired if necessary- at its own workshops or depots with WR providing the man and machines required for the work.