Nightmare on Central Railway to continue as power upgradation delayed

Officials have been unable to carry out maintenance on the Kalyan-Thane stretch, as power lines are being converted from 1,500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC; this is delaying trains by nearly 8 minutes

The terrible state of affairs on Central Railway (CR) is set to continue, as officials have missed the deadline to convert the overhead power lines from 1,500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC supply. Due to this, maintenance work has been hampered, leading to delays in services due to technical glitches and failures.

Illustrations/Amit Bandre

CR services have been marred with technical glitches of late, causing delays and cancellation of trains. Commuters have had to deal with overcrowded trains and erratic services. Senior CR officials said that since January this year, maintenance work on fast lines (lines 3-4) had taken a backseat between Thane and Kalyan. “We were supposed to complete work on upgrading to 25,000-volt by August,” said a senior CR official.

The upgradation on the fast has been completed between Kalyan and Thane but only till Mumbra on the slow lines. Further south, trains still run on 1,500 volts DC. This means fewer trains can run on dual power supply. With the deadline breached, the suburban lines have taken a hit due to lack of maintenance. Over the last 4-5 weekends, due to constant technical failures, CR has been carrying out mega blocks mainly on the Thane-Kalyan slow lines, severely affecting services.

Owing to the ongoing power work on the fast lines and recent derailments at Kalyan and Dombivli, CR authorities have placed a ‘caution order’ or speed restrictions of 40-50 kmph on straight lines and 15 kmph on crossovers (points where the trains change tracks). Normally, these lines can carry trains running at 100 kmph, with crossovers being able to sustain a speed of 25 kmph.

Clipping the speeds has added to delays. Three level crossing gates at Kalwa, Diva and Thakurli worsen the situation as they require the trains to stop. Even long-distance trains have been affected because they have to switch engines at Igatpuri due to the varying power supplies.

Problematic junction
The situation is particularly acute at Kalyan; the station sees 950 train services every day. According to CR officials, 320 services are operated on the Kalyan-Karjat route and 250 on the Kalyan-Kasara route ever day. 380 services start or terminate at Kalyan.

“We are running services beyond capacity. Moreover, there are 23 diamond crossings, which are the complicated ones, near Kalyan,” said another CR official. Over the past few days, CR authorities have been carrying out work of changing cement sleepers, replacing the rusted tracks, cleaning and replacing ballasts and stones, and removing old points and crossovers.

Due to this, the trains are running 7-8 minutes late and the problem is compounded in case of a technical glitch. Local passenger associations at Kalyan have met the senior railway officials complaining of the same. “We met them asking to improve capacity of train services apart from completing several pending projects,” said Vishwanath Datrak, general secretary, Upnagriya Pravasi Railway Mahasangh, a commuters’ body.

CR also introduced a new timetable from November 15, increasing distance covered by trains by 648 km on the suburban corridor. Many of these services have been added on the Thane-Kalyan section, but this has brought little respite.

Mega block tomorrow
Central Railway has planned a mega block on the Kalyan-Thane section between 11.10 am and 4.10 pm on Sunday.

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