'Spring' cleaning for railways

Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation is in the midst of ironing out glitches with the air-spring suspension compressor responsible for the height and balance of its new German-made rakes 

The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) is in the midst of experimenting with air suspension springs, which is an external compressor responsible for maintaining the balance and height of a train, for the two prototypes of its new rakes, which will be equipped with German-made Bombardier electrics.

While the accurate height — from the track to the overhead wire — of the trains has been achieved, MRVC is still struggling to attain the monitored balance of the rakes — empty or packed with commuters.

To discuss the issue, a high-level meeting was held on December 19 at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai. According to sources, there are certain technical failures with the make of air spring, which Railways officials had decided to test at an earlier meeting last month. “We are carrying out several different trials. This is just a prototype and its details haven't been approved yet. It shall take at least two to three months for approval,” said Prabhat Ranjan, chief PRO, MRVC, which is responsible for getting these new trains for Mumbai. Seventy-two such 12-car trains will be manufactured at the ICF, Chennai at a cost of Rs 3,041 crore.

A CR official, on condition of anonymity, said, “Without the required height, these trains would not be able to run on the Kurla-CST stretch, which has several old stone-bridges. However, this problem has been rectified,” countered Ranjan.

Cannot meet schedule
As per the initial schedule, four new rakes were supposed to be manufactured every month. However, only three are being made per month.

Due to space constraints at the manufacturing plant, the supply of electrics is being regulated, a source said. “The new rakes are being made for other cities too. Initially, the Bombardier make of trains will come to the Western Railway, while the present Siemens make of trains will be given to the Central Railway. Gradually these trains are likely to be divided between CR and WR. While 42 will go to WR, 30 will be allotted to the CR,” said a railway official, on condition of anonymity.

The prototype Bombardier make of trains s underway since November 2013.

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