Railway minister cracks whip on Central Railway

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asks CR authorities to fall in line and resolve technical glitches

Be punctual and remove glitches. This is what the new Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told railway authorities at a high-level meeting held late night on November 21 in Mumbai. Over the last few weeks, officials have missed the deadline to convert the overhead power lines from 1,500-volt Direct Current (DC) to 25,000-volt Alternating Current (AC) supply on the Central Railway. Consequently, the maintenance work has been hampered, leading to delays in services due to technical glitches and failures. On November 22, this newspaper had reported about these two issues in the article ‘Nightmare on CR to continue as power upgradation delayed’.

The Railways has been pulled up for delays in services and maintenance. Pic/Nimesh Dave
The Railways has been pulled up for delays in services and maintenance. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Minister seeks time-bound plan
Sources said that Prabhu has asked for a time-bound plan to address the problems on the suburban system and ensure that the Kalyan Yard, which sees the movement of as many as 950 train services every day, is repaired and maintained at the earliest. “He has also asked the Railway Board to expedite the process of 1500-volt DC to 25000-volt AC power conversion between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Thane and provide appropriate technical inputs to strengthen Mumbai suburban system,” said Narendra Patil, chief public relations officer of Central Railway.

These two issues have not been addressed at all. As a result, three different sets of trains are running; one that runs purely on DC line, second that runs on both DC and AC power and third one purely on AC lines. Most of the old trains run on slow tracks while the new ones run on fast tracks. Prabhu also instructed CR to take up maintenance on war footing so that trains can again run on maximum permissible speed and speed restrictions are removed.

Thane-Kalyan: Crucial stretch
The section between Thane and Kalyan is critical as maximum number of trains is delayed between this stretch. “We started strengthening tracks, overhead cables and other vital assets from November 1 on this section. All the Sunday mega blocks have been availed on fast corridor in this section only,” said a CR official on condition of anonymity.

Apart from this, blocks of shorter duration on Saturday and special night blocks, too, are being carried out. About 300 permanent staff were deployed for track maintenance over the fortnight who were diverted from other divisions of Central Railway. Now, about 200 contract labourers and 100 departmental tracks maintainers are working daily to replace track components such as switch, crossing, sleepers and fittings.

“The temporary speed restrictions are being reviewed on a daily basis and the situation is likely to normalise by November 30,” added Patil. They have removed 16,200 bags of muck, replaced 5,100 worn out pads, 1,400 sleepers, 17 crossings used by trains to switch tracks and 383 metres of old rails at Kalyan.

Quick facts
>> Western Railway has asked for funds to complete pending projects
>> They also want the Railway ministry to sort out issues about Oshiwara station and land acquisition for fifth and sixth rail lines
>> Konkan Railway has been granted R250 crore for total overhauling of the network where there have been derailments

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