Mumbai: How the 'fire-resistant' monorail went up in flames

Nov 10, 2017, 08:36 IST | A Correspondent

Two coaches of a monorail rake, said to be fire-resistant, was caught ablaze in the wee hours of yesterday; fortunately they were empty

Two coaches of a monorail rake, said to be fire-resistant, was caught ablaze in the wee hours of yesterday; fortunately they were empty. It still is seriously bad news for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), as the service is already running into losses due to low ridership and high maintenance.

The rake that caught fire at Mysore Colony station. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The rake that caught fire at Mysore Colony station. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

The fireball
The MMRDA now faces a problem with respect to operations, as the fire has put one out of the four trains that had been running out of commission. That leaves officials with just three rakes, one of which will also have to be used for the trial run underway along the Wadala-Jacob Circle phase II. There are currently 10 monorail rakes in Mumbai - six under maintenance and four into service. Five more rakes are yet to be procured.

Joint Project Director (PR), MMRDA, Dilip Kawathkar, said, "On Thursday at 5 am, an empty monorail train caught fire at Mysore Colony station, and its last two coaches were burnt down. It was travelling from Wadala to begin the day's service from Chembur. No casualty was reported. The motorman, when the train reached Mysore Colony station, noticed smoke emanating from underneath the last coach and called the Fire Brigade. However, by the time a fleet of six fire engines reached the spot, the coaches were charred. It took an hour to douse the fire. All monorail services were suspended immediately. The metropolitan commissioner has ordered a complete check of all monorail rakes and an inquiry to find out how a fire-resistant train caught fire."

Hosed down
When mid-day reached the station, all entry points were closed and a notice put up that services stood suspended until further notice.

"In the morning, when the fire brigade and police came, we realised that the train had caught fire. The good thing was that no one was injured; had it caught fire during the day, it would have been catastrophic," said a local. While the exact cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, short circuit is suspected to be the reason.

Chief Fire Officer P Rahangdale said, "The fire was confined to two cabs of monorail stationed at platform 1, burning the electrical wirings, windows, doors, seats, flooring, roofs, tyres, electrical light panel, platform railing and polycarbonate sheet of roof of the station. It was extinguished using one big and one small hose line of three engines, after disconnecting power supply to the train and track. Monorail fixed firefighting installation was found in a working condition, but it wasn't operated by the staff."

The MMRDA has appointed an independent committee, which will be headed by P S Baghel, retired commissioner of railway safety, Western Circle. The committee will look into the incident.


 

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19k
Average daily ridership of monorail

Rs 9 lakh
Average daily losses incurred

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