Brace for chaos on Central Railway next week, as the switch from 1,500-V DC to 25,000-V AC will force trains to crawl at 15 kmph at nine spots between CST and Thane; this means cancellation of services and, of course, even more crowded trains
The power system upgradation on Central Railway (CR) will have some shocking results for commuters delayed trains and large-scale cancellation of services which will result in locals being even more crowded.
The upgradation work will be completed on Saturday night. Pic/Shadab Khan
The reason? the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) has deemed that the speed of trains at nine spots between Thane and CST cannot surpass 15 kmph when the new 25,000-volt system is put to use. According to officials, this restriction will force them to slash 40 services an hour during peak hours, a massive cut for the already overcrowded suburban line.
With 40 services being cancelled every hour, commuters on Central Railway’s Main line can expect to see such scenes on a regular basis from Sunday. File pic for representation
Officials will complete the conversion from 1,500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC on the intervening night of June 6 and June 7. Once this is done, the troubles will begin. The Commissioner of Railway Safety has mandated a speed restriction of 15 kmph at the nine locations, mainly underneath Road Over Bridges (ROBs) and Foot Over Bridges (FOB) on this route.
Railway officials have to maintain the prescribed gap of 4.27 metres between the tracks and the overhead wires, but with a higher voltage system in place, the buffer between the power lines and the bridges is not enough. These locations are near Carnac Bunder, Hancock bridge, Currey Road, Matunga, Sion, and Kurla.
Only slow, no fast
Currently the average speed on is 60 kmph on the fast line although the permissible speed is 100 kmph and 38 kmph on the slow line. With the severe clampdown on the speed, punctuality will go for a toss. The result? Several train services will be cancelled and the ones that will be run will be even more packed than usual.
“It will be a testing time for us next week,” agreed a CR official.Sources said that the average speeds will come down to 20-25 kmph, as trains will be bunched behind one another. “Although these are only nine locations along the 33-km stretch, accelerating and making up for lost time will be tough,” said a CR official.
As per the schedule, the time that is supposed to be taken to travel between CST and Thane is 58 minutes in a slow train and 37 minutes in a fast train. Officials expect that 16-20 minutes will be added to this because of the speed limits from Sunday. In case of technical failures which CR is no stranger to this will go up further.
Sources said that currently, on an average, around 15 train services operate per line per hour. CR has two fast lines and two slow ones. The speed cut is expected to cause hourly cancellation of around 10 services during peak hours and seven during non-peak hours on each line. This means 40 services will be off the tracks every hour during peak hours a brutal curtailment by any standards.
Railway officials claim these problems will continue for at least a week once the power upgradation is done. They are also looking at making technical changes in the EMUs, which could include tweaking the air springs, overhead wires, double insulation of cables right below the bridges and even lowering tracks, depending on the need.
“We will be following the suggestions made by the CRS. We realise that the speed will come down to 15 kmph at certain locations, but within a week it will be increased to 30 kmph. This would be maintained during monsoon and after that, it shall be increased to 50 kmph,” said S K Sood, general manager, Central Railway.
Current average speed on the fast line: 60 kmph
Current average speed on the slow line: 38 kmph
Average speed expected from Sunday: 20-25 kmph