WR to insulate wires, commuters from glitches

Reeling from the slew of overhead wire failures on the first day after the conversion to AC power supply, officials have identified 170 spots where insulation will have to be reinforced

A day after Western Railway (WR) services with the newly inaugurated 25,000-volt AC power system got off to an unpromising start with three troublesome wire failures, the WR officials have been jolted out of complacency, and have set to work strengthening the areas where insulation of overhead cables is weak.
Keeping in mind that an ill-fated crow had caused the first snag on Day 1 when it flew into a wire at Marine Lines, causing it to snap, WR workers spent the greater part of yesterday identifying spots where crows are prone to build their nests.

Off the track: MiD DAY had reported how the WR's new power line got
off to a sputtering start on Monday, when three glitches occurred due to
snags in overhead wires - two at Marine Lines station and one near
Dadar station

MiD DAY had reported on the worrying start to the WR's new power line on Monday, when three glitches occurred due to snags in overhead wires -- two at Marine Lines and one near Dadar railway station ('Western Railway's Rs 500 crore upgrade gets a jolt on Day 1,' February 7).

According to senior WR officials, 170 such spots have been identified along the 21-km Churchgate-Andheri railway route, where the insulation of cables needs to be reinforced. "We inspected the entire stretch to identify these spots. In the next four nights, we will install insulating tubes to double their safety," said a senior WR official.

Officials also gave their assurances that though the process is time-consuming and takes at least a month for completion, they would be using four overhead cable repairing tower wagons to fix the problem.

Most of the spots that will be on the WR's priority list lie below road and foot over-bridges on the stretch. This is owing to the fact that the gap separating the wires and the bridges is less than advised. The ideal distance between the overhead equipment and the bridge should be 5.8 metres. Instead of elevating the bridges as was originally recommended, it has decided to improve the insulation of the wires.

"We knew at the outset that such problems would occur. We had to upgrade from 1,500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC before we could install the additional insulating tubes," said a WR official. There are 10 bridges on the Churchgate-Andheri stretch.

Meanwhile, WR workers will also paint parts of the overhead cables and pantographs over the trains with grease, to prevent crows and other birds from getting electrocuted. Officials claim that the nesting season for birds is underway, and they tend to build their new homes in gaps beneath the bridges, increasing their chances of getting caught in the overhead wires, and dying painful deaths.

It is also likely that the power failures that are frequent near stations like Kandivli, Vile Parle, Elphinstone Road and Charni Road would continue, as these stretches fall under neutral sections, which do not have continuous power supply. Under the new system, power is supplied to trains in stretches, so that the entire line is not affected simultaneously.

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