As the last-minute talks between the Western Railway (WR) officials and the motormen about operating local trains between Virar and Dahanu bore fruit, there is likelihood that services would be up and running by March 31, the deadline set by the WR.
For the past few days, the two parties were in discussions over who would be manoeuvring local trains on the Virar-Dahanu stretch. While the WR authorities were keen on hiring motormen working on long distance routes, drivers running locals said they were capable of operating trains on this 60-km-stretch as well. A WR official said, “Motormen operating long-distance trains know the entire stretch well and so it makes sense for them to run trains between Virar and Dahanu too. But now we have started training local motormen and are making them familiar with the extended route.”
As a part of their training, motormen operating local trains will be travelling with motormen operating long distance trains. A motorman said, “The process of learning on the road is being given to four motormen, so that they get a fair idea about the entire route.” Some of the issues discussed during the meeting by motormen comprised placement of signals next to the railway tracks, curves and turning on the stretch, speed restrictions at various spots, number of platforms and their length between Virar and Dahanu, and other such technicalities.
Officials claimed that the motormen were familiar with the distance between two signals about 700 metres on the Churchgate-Virar stretch, which on the Virar-Dahanu route is substantial. There are seven stations between Virar and Dahanu and the total length of the stretch is 63 km. WR Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai) S Silas said, “We are working on the schedule for operating local services and necessary training will be given to the motormen.”
Sources claimed that two services might start between Virar and Dahanu initially and if the initiative receives a positive response from commuters, authorities plan to increase the number of trains. The proposal to extend local train services uptil Dahanu was first made in 2002. WR officials claimed that though they have for long considered Virar-Dahanu as a suburban section, they would not be able to operate end-to-end trains between Churchgate and Dahanu due to technical reasons. Presently, 10 shuttle services ply on the Virar-Dahanu stretch and would continue to operate alongside local train services.