With more than one-third of its ageing coaches unfit to be running on the tracks, Central Railway may be putting its nearly 40 lakh passengers in harm’s way every day.
Hanging on, just barely: Another 216 coaches are also between 20 and 24.9 years old and are fast approaching the age when they will be unfit for use. Representation pic
An RTI application filed by Ramchandra Karve, a regular local train user, has revealed that out of the 574 coaches being used by Central Railway, 221 coaches have crossed the age limit of 25 years set by the railways and are, hence, unfit for use.
“The Diva agitation in January and the frequent disruptions in services made me file the RTI to find out the reasons for these. I had asked for details of the age of the coaches being used,” said Karve.
The application was filed in January and the reply stated that out of the 574 coaches which are used to run 1,618 CR services every day (including harbour line ones), 221 are between the age of 25.2 years and 32.8 years. At between 20 and 24.9 years old, another 216 coaches are also fast approaching the age when they need to be replaced (see box).
“The 221 coaches need to be replaced with new ones at the earliest. The fact that they are still being used is alarming and may be dangerous for passengers,” added Karve. He said that he will write to the railway board and senior officials if the necessary replacements are not made immediately.
Central Railway requires 118 rakes, including one of 15 cars, 32 rakes of 9 cars and the rest 12-car long. It has 121 rakes, of which three are kept on standby for any emergencies. Speaking on condition of anonymity, CR officials said that the fact that the railways is considering introducing air-conditioned trains on the one hand and using rakes that are unfit for use on the other calls for introspection.
“We should think on this point seriously. While introducing AC trains is a good move, we should also be able to meet the needs of the passengers by replacing the old coaches that are already in use,” said a CR official.
The other side
Ashok Kumar Singh, PRO, CR, said, “We are maintaining the rakes properly and running them. Our senior officials have announced that we are in process of replacing the old coaches with new ones.”