Mumbai: CR operating 14 rakes on a wing and a prayer

Officials cross their fingers every time a rake made by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited runs on Central main, Harbour or Trans-Harbour line during peak hours, as glitches in any of them can disrupt the day’s schedule

Every time a Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) rake leaves the car shed to ply on the central line during peak hours, Central Railway (CR) officials keep their fingers crossed hoping that the particular train completes its journey without disrupting the day’s schedule. On any given day, seven to eight such rakes ply on Central main, Harbour and Trans-Harbour lines.

The 14 rakes, assembled by the BHEL, were introduced on the Central line in the year 2000. File pic for representation
The 14 rakes, assembled by the BHEL, were introduced on the Central line in the year 2000. File pic for representation

Sources in the CR claimed that BHEL assembled the 14 rakes using parts from 121 different trains, and these rakes are highly prone to technical glitches. The trains were introduced in the year 2000. “Operating these many assembled rakes at once complicates the situation, as they frequently encounter technical glitches,” said a senior CR official.

Most of the BHEL rakes are in the range of 12 to 15 years and have a life of another 15 years. Sources claimed these trains are prone to glitches like short circuits, faulty wiring and fuses, among others. “Electrical components and wires inside the coaches responsible for smooth functioning of a rake encounter issues regularly, making these trains unreliable,” said another CR official.

The glitch
Whenever a BHEL rake breaks down due to electrical glitches, it requires a manual reboot. Officials said electrical components for these trains are purchased at cheaper rates, which result in mismatch and myriad technical failures when the train is in motion.

No options
Authorities claimed that they have no option but to run these trains, as they cannot be phased out. Secondly, the rakes’ ability to run on both DC and AC sections makes them indispensable. When the CR officials tested the power upgradation to 25,000-volt AC on the CST-Thane stretch last weekend, these trains responded positively.

Moreover, CR currently operates nine-coach rakes on the 1,500-volt DC section. Even these rakes need replacement. These trains ply on the Central main line and Harbour lines. Commuters travelling via these trains often complain about them being rickety.

121
CR’s existing fleet

36
Trains plying on the Harbour line

10
Trains deployed on the Trans-Harbour line

75
Trains used on the Central main line

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