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Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard

While Mumbaikars continue their tussle with time to shave even a few precious seconds off their daily commute, the city’s fastest local and perhaps the country’s is rusting in a yard and playing home to junkies and drunkards, other than doubling as a storage for a miscellany of scrap.

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard

¬†A nine-car Siemens coach manufactured in the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai was bought in 2011 to be a swift response to the city’s slothful locals. A single coach of this train, perfected for velocity and jerks, cost about Rs 3 crore, which makes the entire rake a costly purchase at Rs 27 crore.

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard

But according to railway officials, the once-fast machine has been lying static and derelict in the Mumbai Central yard for close to two years now. “The rake is filled with filth and scrap materials. We also saw alcohol bottles and the paraphernalia of drug addiction in the coaches. Nobody has been assigned to look after it,” a railway official said, implying negligence from the authorities.

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard
Alcohol bottles, scrap and filth cover almost every inch of the local 

Fast and loose
At present, the locals clock in no more than 80 to 100 kmph on the speed dial. So when the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow tested the rake to run at 140 kmph on stretches between Borivli and Virar, and Vaitarna-Dahanu, the railway officials were hopeful, until a glitch emerged.

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard
Empty alcohol bottles and packages are strewn on the train’s floor

“During the trial run, the RDSO found some technical problem in the rake and directed the team to bring it to the Mumbai Central yard. Over the months, the windows, hand grabs and seats have been damaged due to lack of maintenance,” the official said, on the condition of anonymity.

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard

Lair for users
If the yard staff is to be believed, during night, drug addicts use the coaches to sleep and dope in. “We have seen such activities many times but the druggies are so cautious that we are not able to catch them. They have stolen many things from the rake which they sell to buy alcohol and drugs,” said a worker at the yard.

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard
Among pebbles and an assortment of litter, drug addicts have been spotted indulging in their routine at night, yard workers said, but they scamper when officials try to catch hold of them

He added that technical problems occur in other rakes as well but they hardly go unnoticed and unattended for as long a period as two years. “The rake could have been used by attaching the single coaches elsewhere, if there was a problem in the motor coach,” added the official.

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard
Officials say several window panes and seats have been ripped up by substance abusers, who sell them off to fund their addiction

The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) was performing the trial run with the RDSO team when the error was discovered. And before the rake could be handed over to over to the Western Railway, it was relegated to the yard.

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard
People have taken to vandalising and defacing the rake by scribbling on its walls

The MRVC’s managing director, Rakesh Saxena, said, “There was a problem in the prototype and it was followed by long (correctional) procedures. We got some follow-up response last week itself, and we are working on it.”

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard
Negligence has heaped dirt and garbage on the floor

The chief public relations officer for the Western Railway, Sharat Chandrayan, said, “The MRVC is looking into the problem and following it up with the procedures.”

Fastest local gathering dust (and dopers) at rail yard
Sacks containing scrap and what appears to be constructioin material have been stocked up under the seats

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