In much-needed relief for 80,000 railway commuters on the Virar-Dahanu stretch, the pesky delays in the extension of local trains services from Virar urrently the last local stop on the north end of the western suburban railway network up to Dahanu seem finally to have come to a stop.
If all goes well, the Virar-Dahanu local services will be operational by April 12, it has been learnt from trusted sources in the Western Railway. Union railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal will be inaugurating the first local from Dahanu station at 6.55 pm. However, there hasn’t been an official announcement about the date, given the volatile schedule of the busy railway minister, sources said.
In more glad tidings, one train service has been added in early morning hours. MiD DAY had published the train time-table for the route in its March 25 issue (‘Churchgate-Dahanu local to ply only in the afternoon’), which did not have morning trains from Churchgate to Dahanu.
Now, as per the revised schedule, a morning train service starting from Churchgate has been added (see box). Earlier, there were only four services in the up (northward) route, and four services in the down (southward) direction on the chart. The new table has five up and five down services including the one early in themorning.
Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relations officer of the WR, refused to confirm a date officially. “The date for initiating the services has not been finalised yet but it will most likely be before April 15.” Earlier, the WR authorities had declared March 31 as the date for kicking off the Virar-Dahanu locals but failed to stick to the promise. Upset with the authorities, more than 100 protesters including politicians like Ram Naik had protested on April 1.
“We are protesting as the WR administration has failed to commence local trains till Dahanu despite committing to the same in the high court,” Kailash Verma, general secretary of commuter association Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh had said during the protest.
If officials from WR are to be believed, the reason for the delays was that the route is not fitted with auxiliary warning system (AWS, which is fixed on the suburban local lines to ensure that trains come to an immediate halt even if a motorman accidentally jumps a red signal.
“It was originally planned to run the locals without AWS, but keeping in mind the safety of passengers, it is important to fit this system before starting the services. It will be installed next to the signals alongside the tracks,” a WR official added. The official also added that due to the busy schedule of the union railway minister, the confirmed date would be announced prior to a day or two.
Power upgrade from DC to AC
The Central Railway (CR) is looking at upgrading its power supply by 17 times to 25,000- volt AC till Thane within the next 10 days. Until now, the CR administration has upgraded power on the Kalyan-Karjat/Kasara stretch to 25,000 volts. “We are hoping that necessary work of power conversion till Thane gets completed by mid-April,” said a senior CR official.
The purpose of power conversion is to ensure smoother movement of trains, save power during motion and face lesser maintenance issues. Official sources say they are hoping that the railway minister would upgrade power till Thane.
Once this is done, only two Central line routes CST-Thane on the main line and CST-Panvel on harbour line will be operating on 1,500-volt DC electricity. These are among the last remaining routes on the entire Indian Railway network to have 1,500-volt DC current, and are expected to be upgraded to AC in a matter of another two years or so.
Estimated numberof commuters on the Virar-Dahanu railway line