Mumbai’s first 1500-volt DC system on suburban rail will complete 91 years today; Central Railway will phase out the DC-run rakes by March 31
On February 3 in the year 1925, the first Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) rake — the technical name of our local trains — ran in Mumbai under the 1500-volt Direct Current (DC) system. Today, this system will celebrate 91 years of its existence. However, its nonagenarian anniversary will be short lived, as by March this system will be eradicated from the country.
The Harbour line is the only network across the country where trains, like this one, run on the 1,500-volt DC system. File pic
“The system is completing a full circle, since it started in Mumbai and will end here as well. We are already getting rakes that will operate on 25,000-volt Alternating Current (AC). We are aiming at the power conversion by March,” said a CR official. At present, the CST-Panvel route on the Harbour line is the only line across India where trains run on 1,500-volt DC.
The railway authorities are upgrading this line to 25,000-volt AC, which is 17 times more powerful than the 1500-volt, before its deadline on March 31.
The process for conversion has already begun with the CR authorities changing the substations and overhead wires that can supply higher voltage electricity to trains. They will require 36 trains that can operate on 25,000-volt AC, which they have begun procuring. The existing Siemens rakes can run on both DC and AC and their testing on the Harbour line has begun.
Other rakes to go as well
mid-day had reported on January 24, about the Central Railway’s oldest coach, which was going to get off tracks on January 31. In fact, there are at least 15 more DC rakes that are older than 25 years that need to go. The newer ones operating on 25,000-volts AC system will replace them.