Mumbai’s first air-conditioned local has been cooling its heels at the Kurla carshed for over three months now, as Central Railway authorities worked to fix all technical glitches before taking it out for trial runs, which were initially supposed to take place in May. Ironically, the officials have missed a major problem that has been staring them in the face all along — at almost 4.3 metres tall, the new AC rake is simply too big to pass under some of the city’s bridges without posing grave danger.

Also Read: How Cool! First AC local train reaches Mumbai

It didn’t strike CR officials until last week that adding the AC units on top of the coaches meant that the rake would be too tall to pass under the bridges
It didn’t strike CR officials until last week that adding the AC units on top of the coaches meant that the rake would be too tall to pass under the bridges

It is particularly bridges towards south Mumbai that pose a problem, as they were built over a century ago and hang lower than most bridges – too low to accommodate the cooling units on top of the AC coaches.

Cutting it too close
While the rake itself is of standard size, it’s the addition of the half-foot AC units that will leave just 30-50 mm (or 3-5 cm) between the top of the train and the base of the bridge. Officials said this would be cutting it too close, and there is a chance that the overhead cooling units could come in contact with low-hanging ROBs and FOBs.

The Currey Road ROB is one of the problem sections, where the gap between the base of the bridge and the top of the AC train could be as little as 3 cm. Pic/Satej Shinde
The Currey Road ROB is one of the problem sections, where the gap between the base of the bridge and the top of the AC train could be as little as 3 cm. Pic/Satej Shinde

And while this might seem like an obvious problem to most people, CR officials only realised the goof-up in the past week, when they finally began to consider starting trial runs on the main Central line. That’s when they realised that they would not be able to run the train between CST-Kurla, because, there are at least four bridges that are too low on this stretch (see ‘Problem bridges’).

Read Story: Mumbai: Major glitch in AC train puts Central Railway in the hot seat

Apart from the old bridges, even the height of the tracks has been raised in certain sections of the CST-Kurla route. Although this proved to be useful in preventing waterlogging on tracks this monsoon, the move has further reduced the clearance gap for trains.

No AC for SoBo
“The officials from the Integral Coach Factory have been informed and they will chip off the excess metal in the next AC rake that will be manufactured,” said a CR official. However, nothing can be done about the rake that is already here, and chances are that it will ply towards CST at all. Instead, CR will likely conduct the trial runs on the Kalyan-Kasara/Karjat route or on the Trans-harbour section between Thane and Vashi.