Mumbai: Birds are the enemy of 'powerful' Central Railway

Authorities fear the birds sitting and building nests on the 25,000-volt wires could electrocute them, thereby causing the cables to snap and disrupt power supply; two such incidents were seen at CST yesterday

Crows are the latest cause for worry for officials of Central Railway (CR). With the power system having switched from 1,500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC, the authorities fear the birds making their nests atop the cables will cause them to get electrocuted and disrupt the power supply.

A huge crowd at Dadar station waiting for trains. More than 65 services had been cancelled by 7 pm yesterday, and the number was expected to go up further by the end of the day. Pic/Shadab Khan
A huge crowd at Dadar station waiting for trains. More than 65 services had been cancelled by 7 pm yesterday, and the number was expected to go up further by the end of the day. Pic/Shadab Khan

The overhead wires snapped twice in the afternoon yesterday due to crows; both incidents were observed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Alternating current tends to attract any object that comes close to it. If the birds come flying at a high speed and happen to touch two wires and complete the circuit, they get electrocuted — and in the process, cause the cables to snap and disrupt the power supply.

Also read: 40 Central Railway services to be cancelled every hour from Sunday

The first-ever AC-powered suburban train on the Main line of Central Railway left CST at 6.15 am yesterday. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar
The first-ever AC-powered suburban train on the Main line of Central Railway left CST at 6.15 am yesterday. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

A nest that touches two wires carrying the high magnitude of current, thereby completing the circuit, could also cause electrocution. During the monsoon, water also tends to act as a conducting agent. “The birds ended up sitting on the overhead cables and got charred.

The OHE wires also snapped,” said Amitabh Ojha, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), Central Railway. Sources in CR said they would now apply gel on the overhead cables to prevent birds from perching on them.

Delayed
The snapping of the overhead cables was overshadowed by the delay in services, which was caused due to the speed limits imposed on trains on the AC-enabled Main line of Central Railway. Trains were running late by 20-25 minutes on an average. There was utter chaos at railway stations and the authorities somehow managed to control the situation.

Till 7 pm, more than 65 services had been cancelled and 51 services partially cancelled implying terminated before they reached their destination. These numbers were expected to go up by the end of the day. Announcements could be constantly heard at various railway stations, informing commuters of the cancelled services.

Authorities began on a late note when the first train of the day was delayed after an issue at a substation in Sion. After taking one-and-a-half hours to rectify the fault, the repair work was completed at 5.37 am and the first train began from CST only at 6.15 am.

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