Authorities are carrying out inspection of the overhead wires and power supply, which is being upgraded from 1,500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC; due to this, no maintenance work can be carried out in the next few days
Officials in Central Railway are dealing with a catch-22 situation. Inspections of the overhead lines and power systems have begun to take ahead the conversion of the power supply on the CST-Thane stretch to 25,000-volt alternating current (AC) from 1,500-volt direct current (DC).
The inspections to check the work done for upgradation of power to 25,000-volt AC will continue during this entire week. Pic/Shadab Khan
While this upgradation is being done to improve services, the inspections will prevent the routine maintenance work from taking place thereby increasing the chances of technical breakdowns when the monsoon arrives.
As the clock struck
12.45 am on May 25, CR authorities and Chetan Bakshi, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, began their inspection between CST and Thane. This is required before approving power upgradation from 1500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC.
Since the night of May 24, authorities and the CRS have been taking rounds of railway lines to check the work done for this conversion. However, due to this ongoing scrutiny that is expected to last the whole week, the authorities will not be able to carry out maintenance work over the next few days.
This may result in problems of maintenance of tracks, overhead wires, signals, and other on-field infrastructure. As part of the maintenance work, the gang men the railway’s foot soldiers in orange and khaki inspect every piece of equipment possible between stations and ensure it is in running condition for the lakhs who use it every day.
Normally a buffer of seven days is required for maintenance at the same location, but this daily maintenance increases prior to the monsoon. Even work on cleaning of nullahs (wherever pending), removing garbage and muck is carried out during this time.
In case these jobs are not done, the chances of technical failures increase, especially when the rains hit the city. “We won’t be able to carry out our daily maintenance works at night. But the inspections are also important,” said Amitabh Ojha, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), CR.
In the wee hours of May 25, the inspection was on between CST and Byculla. The next morning, between 12.45 am and 4.45 am, it went on between Byculla and Thane on the slow lines. On that afternoon, a similar inspection was carried out at substations which house the transformers supplying power to the overhead lines.
This went on for more than three hours. The CR wants to complete the power conversion before monsoon, as they will get buffer time to address the teething issues they might encounter once the new power supply is in place. A trial run on the new power line was already conducted a few months ago.
Sources said there is friction between the CRS and the CR authorities, as, despite the initial trial run, it is taking time for getting all the required clearances. Moreover, the CRS has also highlighted the issues of height below the road over bridges (ROBs), which needs to be more than 4.27 metres from the tracks, and the creation of a neutral section to ease the power supply to trains.