Mumbai: Railway Board left red-faced over CR's money minting plan

But Central Railway officials insist that it’s all in good faith and that the amount raised will go to drought-hit farmers; 57 commuters sign up for the last DC local joyride

The Railway Board isn’t too chuffed about riding the gravy train. It has pulled up the Central Railway (CR) for its plan to charge commuters Rs 10,000 per ticket to take the last DC (direct current) local on Saturday midnight and watch a live screening of the conversion from 1,500-volt DC to the 25,000-volt AC (alternating current) system.

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mid-day had yesterday reported the CR’s grand plans for the conversion (‘Central Railway wants to sell last DC local ride for Rs 10,000’).

Sources said CR officials faced the heat from the Railway Board for the “negative publicity” that came in the wake of their decision to turn the historic moment of conversion into a money-spinner. “Railway Board officials feel that we are collecting money for commercial purposes, which is not the case,” said a source in the CR.

CR officials have claimed that the money raised through the sale of the tickets would go to parched regions of the state.

Subhash Gupta, president of Rail Yatri Parishad and member of the Zonal Rail Users Consultative Committee, picked at this claim of benevolence. “If they are worried about farmers, then railway officials should contribute a day’s salary for their uplift,” he contended.

SK Sood, general manager, CR, however, dug in his heels. “I want to reiterate that the money will be given to drought-affected farmers of Maharashtra,” he said.

Rajiv Mishra, principal of JJ College of Architecture, which is handling the sale of tickets, said 57 commuters had made bookings for the expensive joyride.

Conditions apply
The Railway Board also set a few riders for issue of a condonation letter for the power upgradation on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)-Panvel Harbour line.

A condonation letter allows railway authorities to skip stringent engineering rules on the grounds that they wouldn’t cause any accident or injure people.

Sources said special rods need to be fitted on the 20 high-tension transmission towers which ensure that the supply of electricity on the CST-Panvel and Thane-Vashi rail sections is not disrupted. The CR will also have to conduct regular inspections and patrols.

There are two road overbridges and as many foot overbridges on the Harbour and Trans-Harbour sections that still need height clearance for accommodating the AC traction. Sources said trains taller than 4,270 mm will not be allowed to ply on these stretches. The Railway Board has asked the CR to restrict the running of certain locomotives and coaches that fall in this category and also display the height limit before these bridges.

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