Don't expect rides on new local trains before October

The city’s commuters may have to wait longer for the new local trains that they were promised they could ride on in March this year. Almost twice this year, the railway authorities and contractors involved in the manufacture of the new local trains have had to review their electronic and technical assemblages inside the motormen’s cabin of the prototype, holding up the process of manufacture.

The first lot of trains is being manufactured at Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai. After the technical and physical parts of first model get approved, trial runs will take place on Mumbai tracks. The March deadline has already missed, and judging by the way things are going, the August deadline too would be difficult to meet, predict sources.

While the coaches are being manufactured by ICF, the technical integration is the task of Bombardier Transportation, and will be monitored by the Research, Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO). Railway officials say that the electrical lines and wires connecting the assembly panel including brakes, accelerators, warning systems and other circuits had been fitted wrongly so far and need rectification.

“The RDSO has been unhappy with the fittings of these small circuits and so some improvement work is still underway,” said an official from Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC). Sources said that part of this work has been sub-contracted -- so the various parts of the train will be assembled at ICF once they are all ready.

There have been several meetings between the officials of MRVC, railways and contractors undertaking this work, both in Mumbai and Chennai.

The motormen’s cabin too will be changed with smaller windows, equipment to aid easier handling of accelerator and brakes, and an extra platform on the panel to hold these levers. Even seats would be changed to allow motormen to sit comfortably.

“The electrical fittings do take time. Once the prototypes are ready, the addition of rakes in Mumbai will become a continuous process,” said a railway official. With the August deadline also likely to be missed, officials now hope that the new trains will start being added to the rails by October.

As part of the deal under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) phase-II, 72 new trains will be added to the existing suburban system. Each EMU (local train) will cost around Rs 14 crore. Until the rakes come in, the Western Railway (WR) can’t supply their AC-DC traction trains to Central Railway (CR), which in turn could lead to a delay in power upgradation.

These 12-car trains can run at a maximum speed of 110 kmph, up from 100 kmph of the present lot. These are being made of stainless steel, which will not only lower corrosion but also allow railways to improve the cleaning and washing process and make it easier for them to remove stubborn paan stains.

In an email response, a spokesperson of Bombardier said, “Bombardier has been working very closely with various agencies like MRVC, ICF Chennai, railway officials in the government, product-approving agency RDSO for the project. In light of the number of agencies involved, authorisation to proceed for manufacturing were delayed and in light of Bombardier’s commitment to producing products with all required approvals, additional time was required. RDSO and MRVC officials have been visiting our sites in Germany and Sweden along with our Indian site in Maneja, Gujarat, regularly to understand and monitor the product for final testing and approval.” 

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