मुंबई Mumbai: In a welcome move, the head of the Western Railway has decided to sanction funds from internal resources to undertake the second phase of the work to raise the height of platforms on the suburban network.
According to official sources, general manager Hemant Kumar has exercised his discretionary powers to allocate Rs4 crore of the total Rs5.6 crore required for the second phase. The rest of the expenses would also be met from internal resources marked for work that is pending or can be put off to a later date.
Shailendra Kumar, divisional railway manager, told, “This is a very special case and the general manager has used his powers to allocate money for this work as passenger safety and comfort is after all of paramount importance.”
The total cost of the three phases of the plan to raise the height of 145 platforms is estimated at Rs47 crore. The first phase involving 32 platforms is underway. It is expected to be completed within a few months and would cost Rs.12.2 crore.
Official sources explained that the customary route of getting funds for the phase 2 would have taken a long time as it involves the ministry, budgetary provisions as well as what is known in railways parlance as the ‘Pink Book’. The Pink Book is a roster of approved works for which money can be dispersed.
The Bombay High Court had ordered the WR to complete the work to raise the height of all the platforms latest by May 31 next year.
The authorities in their reply to the court said that while phase 1 and 2 could be completed – even in difficult conditions – by the deadline set, phase 3 seemed unlikely to be completed as the funds for the work were yet to be sanctioned and it required more time as most of the work could be done only in the period when trains are not running.
In phase 1, WR has taken up work for platforms that are 760mm high and must be upgraded to 900mm urgently. Phase 2 will include platforms between 760mm and 840mm height.
The third phase has listed platforms with a height of 840mm. The cost of the third phase of work is estimated at Rs29 crore, which is beyond the amount that can be allocated by the railway manager.
Currently, the first phase work is being financed with some ingenuity, utilizing funds that were reserved for track repair. This money is termed as ‘revenue’. Some of this track repair work is either in limbo or can be taken up at a later date, officials said.
WR’s platform plan
Phase Platforms Cost
1 currently at 760mm – 32 Rs12.2 cr
2 between 760-840mm – 16 Rs5.6 cr
3 about 840mm – 97 Rs29.1 cr
Total 145 Rs46.9 cr
The gap rules
According to railway rules, the height of platforms should be between 760mm and 840mm from the top of the rails. Consequently, the maximum gap between platform and the floor of the train should be between 342mm and 437mm.
Both the WR and CR have written to the Railway Board to increase the stipulated height to between 900mm and 920mm as the gap has widened dangerously after the introduction of new trains that are wider and higher.
The Siemens rakes, for example, have a floor height of nearly 1,220mm from the rails, whereas the ideal height should be between 1,187mm and 1,197mm. The floor of the new Bombardier rakes that are on trial is even higher, at 1,230mm from the top of the rails.