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Blackout on Western Railway

Owing to ongoing work of power conversion from 1,500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC, trains have to go without electricity for 10 seconds on stretches between Andheri and Vile Parle, Malad and Kandivli

YOU are on a Churchgate-bound local train and have just passed the Andheri station. Suddenly, the air around you is still and you can feel droplets of sweat rolling down your forehead, even as the train lumbers along.

Just as the uneasy calm sinks in, there is a loud shriek, a tug, a lurch back, and you can feel the balmy winds brushing your cheeks again. Those 10 seconds of discomfort are forgotten.


Regular blackouts on WR for the past five days have
made train journeys miserable for commuters


For the last five days, this has been the common experience of commuters travelling on the stretches between Vile Parle and Andheri, and Malad and Kandivli on the Western line.

The lights and fans in the compartments go off suddenly on these stretches. The train manages to crawl along because of the available kinetic energy.
 
This is the situation throughout the day, though people usually do not realise it during the morning hours.
 
The situation becomes more prominent in the evening, as there is a blackout, barring a couple of tube lights that glow.

"Initially, we thought there is some problem with the train, but power to the lights and fans was resumed soon," said a commuter Satish Iyer.

Sources said this was happening because of the ongoing power conversion work from 1,500-volt Direct Current (DC) to 25,000-volt Alternating Current (AC).

Currently, the overhead line that supplies electricity to the train and powers its movement is 25,000-volt AC on the Virar-Dahisar stretch, while the remaining stretch till Churchgate receives 1,500-volt DC.

As per the plan, the Western Railway (WR) wants to make it 25,000-volt AC till Churchgate for efficient operations and speedy movement.

Converting it to 25,000-volt AC would allow trains to exceed 100 kmph and it would also consume less electricity.

"When there is a power conversion, there are certain sections where there is no electric supply. Due to this, the lights and fans go out as there is no power supply to the train," said a senior WR official on condition of anonymity.

Sources said the stretch till Andheri would be energised with 25,000 volt by October 23, and conversion on the remaining stretch till Churchgate would be carried out by November 12-13.

Currently, the railways has already placed sub-stations at selected locations on the sides of the tracks, which would supply 25,000 volts electricity to the trains.

The entire section would be charged once the 'lightning arresters' fitted on the electricity poles to absorb lightning and prevent any untoward disruption are removed. After the conversion takes place, there would be no need for the lightning arresters, officials said.
 
"These activities will happen in phases. The exact dates for carrying out these work has not been decided yet. But after the conversion, there would not be any problems," said S Chandrayan, chief public relations officer, WR.

Similar problems have been occurring on the Dahisar-Borivali stretch and on the Kalyan-Vithalwadi stretch on the Central Railway.

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