This weekend, Central Railway will chuck its obsolete DC trains and ride the gravy train instead. As the Harbour line finally bids goodbye (and good riddance) to its 1,500-volt Direct Current (DC) system, you can witness the end of an era that had begun on this very line in 1925. For the princely sum of Rs 10,000, that is.
CR may be notorious for inconveniencing commuters with slow service and repeated technical failures, but let none say it missed an opportunity to spin some money. As the last old 9-car DC train rolls out of service on Saturday night, the authorities will allow rail fans and other interested citizens to be part of the historic moment for a cool Rs 10,000 per ticket. This will not only cover the fare for the midnight journey on the rickety rake, but will also allow the joyriders to sit in the comfort of the ticket counter (called Star Chamber) and watch a live screening of the conversion to 25,000-volt Alternating Current (AC) system over the course of the night.
Read Story: 25,000-volt AC for Harbour line this year
DC trains like this one will no longer ply after the Harbour line converts to the AC system this weekend. The last 9-car train to run on Saturday night will be preserved by CR. File pic
The last DC local will depart from Kurla at 11.30 pm and will end its run at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) at 12.15 am. Over the intervening night, the Harbour line’s electrical system will be converted to the AC system — the last one to do so in all of India. Sources said those who buy the tickets will also be allowed to flag off the first train to run on the new system at 6 am, Sunday.
Song and dance
“People can board this last train anywhere between Kurla and CST. We have also called for music bands that will play at the railway stations,” said SK Sood, CR’s general manager. These bands will play at Kurla, Chunabhatti, GTB Nagar, Wadala, Sewri, Cotton Green, Reay Road, Dockyard, Sandhurst, Masjid and CST. The sale of tickets is being handled by JJ School of Arts.
However, passenger associations are miffed by this decision. “The railways are making this into pure business, which is totally wrong. It is an eventful night and instead of selling tickets at such high rates, they should allow the thousands of people who might want to bid farewell to the last DC rake system in India,” said Subhash Gupta, president of Rail Yatri Parishad, and member of the Zonal Rail Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC).
“Everyone should be allowed to see it for free, if they are interested. This is a foolish decision and railways are trying to make business out of anything and everything. Not everything should be charged,” said Madhu Kotian, president of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh and ZRUCC member.
CR chief Sood, however, said the ticket collections will go to help drought-affected areas in Maharashtra.
The DC system took birth on February 3, 1925, on the Harbour line itself, and it is here that it will end its run. This will open up greater scope for the improvement of services to cater to the 12 lakh commuters on the Harbour and Trans-Harbour lines. CR is in the process of demanding four rakes each for the two sections, which would drastically boost its carrying capacity. There are 20 rakes available for CR and WR, which need to write in their demand and send it to the Railway Board.
Sources said that CR will ask for four rakes on Harbour line and four on the Trans-harbour very soon. Each rake will carry out 12-15 services per day, which would result in more services between CST-Panvel and Thane-Panvel. “We are currently making plans for the same and working out the precise routes where these rakes are needed,” said a CR official.
At present there are 10 lakh people who use the Harbour line and another 2 lakh on the Trans-harbour line every day. With the proposed Navi Mumbai airport coming up, there is a need to improve and increase the train services. However, CR and MRVC, have been unable to maintain their deadline for the conversion from 9 cars to 12-car services between CST-Panvel. Sources said they have now realised that the number of coaches are more than sufficient for this purpose, but their targets for parking these rakes haven’t been met. If additional parking lines, stabling lines and work on platforms are not all completed by April, then there could be lot of issues ahead.
>> All nine coaches of the DC rake will be preserved by the railways and locations have been identified
>> They will be parked at P D’Mello road siding at CST, Wadi Bunder, Thane and the National Rail Museum in Delhi
>> Rail fans participating in the event after paying R10,000 can avail of models of these DC coaches at a token price
>> Video recording shall be done of the entire power upgradation that will be played inside the preserved DC coaches for the next 10 years
The time at which the last DC local will depart from Kurla on Saturday night, arriving at CST at 12.15 am