In his maiden budget, Railway Minister DV Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday drew cheer and skepticism in equal measure when he announced plans to introduce high-speed trains that would connect major cities, the first plying between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
It has now emerged that less than a day after the plans were declared, urgent instructions were sent to staff members at the car shed in Mumbai Central, telling them to immediately start repairing a rake that was assembled with expensive German parts back in 2011, and has been gathering dust ever since.
Many parts of the rake, like fans and seats, have been ripped out and used in other trains
Car shed staffers, however, told mid-day that with the two-year warranty period for the rake having expired long ago and many of its parts transplanted to other rakes, salvaging the ‘high-speed’ rake and restoring it to pristine condition is next to impossible.
The motor coach and other parts for the Rs 27 crore rake were purchased by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) from Germany in 2011 to make the high speed train. It was expected to run at speeds of 160 kmph. The train, however, never made it to the tracks, other than on a trial run.
The rake without maintenance was dumped in the car shed at Mumbai Central
“The trial run was conducted by the RDSO at a speed of 140 kmph between Borivli-Virar and Vaitarna-Dahanu. But due to some technical faults, it was not successful,” said a senior Western Railway official. After this failed trial run, the R27 crore rake was dumped in the car shed at Mumbai Central.
Soon after the railway budget was announced on Tuesday, however, the car shed staff received orders that the rake was to be refurbished immediately.
However, they are of the opinion that in their wish to revive a rake dumped years ago without maintenance, the railway authorities could be grasping at straws, as the years of disuse is sure to have had an effect on the rake’s performance. What’s more, many of its parts are now missing.
“Repair work on the rake is on in full swing, and will be completed within a week’s time. However, almost all parts of this train, including fans, lights and seats, have been fixed in other trains that needed parts,” said a car shed staff member, requesting anonymity.
Asked why the parts were incorporated into other rakes, he explained: “This is a normal practice with the rakes. If we need any part for rakes that are in use, we remove them from the unused rakes and fix them to the ones in use,” added the official.
He cautioned that once the warranty period for a rake expires, no complaints can be made about its condition. “In short, we can no longer expect the rake to perform the way it did when it was built using German parts over three years ago,” he added.
Rakesh Saxena, managing director, MRVC, said, “The rakes are being repaired for the prototype trial run, which will be conducted as soon as it is repaired and all its missing parts replaced. While it is true that the trial was not successful last time, we will conduct a fresh trial run after the rake is modified.”
Rs 27 crore
Cost of the train