All aboard Western Railway's high-tech express

Mar 19, 2015, 08:20 IST | Shashank Rao

The Bombardier rake, which promises smoother rides for passengers, was flagged off from Churchgate yesterday; it has an advanced technical panel, which can enable the train to run efficiently

Following a long delay, the new Bombardier rake was finally introduced on Western Railway (WR) yesterday. At R42 crore each, not only do the new rakes hold the promise of a more comfortable ride for passengers, but also of smoother operations on WR, by allowing motormen to run the train more efficiently.

A technical panel that is part of the motorman’s cabin
A technical panel that is part of the motorman’s cabin

The driving cabin has been fitted with a technical panel that almost works like a heart monitor for the train. The panel is divided into four columns, representing the four units of the train (consisting of one motor coach and two trailers each in a 12-car rake).

One of the train’s new features is a two-pronged grab handle. Pics/Atul Kamble
One of the train’s new features is a two-pronged grab handle. Pics/Atul Kamble

Officials told mid-day that the panel displays information about the different technical aspects of the train, including the status of the electricity supply to the rake and overhead cable, the current speed of the train and the speed that can be achieved on the stretch and details about the braking and other key systems inside the motor cabin.

“The display shows whether there are any technical issues in the rake,” said a WR official. In order to detect the source of the problem more efficiently, the columns, representing the four units, show images of the overhead cable, alarm chain, the lights, fans, and electronic displays inside coaches, and the announcement systems inside the motorman’s cabin as well as the coaches.

Officials said if there is any issue in operations, the column representing the affected unit would blink. “Until now, we have had to check trains manually from end to end to detect the source of the problem.

In the new rakes, however, we will get to know the affected area immediately, minimising the time taken to correct the problem,” said a motorman. Motormen have been getting special training sessions in Virar for running these new trains.

Room for change
Officials said that they have, however, identified a few problems that they will rectify. For example, the pole at the door, which now has two protruding attachments on either end, will be replaced with the conventional one. Authorities are also planning to increase the breadth of seats in first-class compartments from 35 cm to 38 cm.

“The second rake will also be introduced soon and the two prototypes will run 12 services every day,” said Shailendra Kumar, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), Western Railway. The Commissioner of Railway Safety has given the permission to run the two rakes for six months.

Railway authorities will also start manufacturing the remaining 70 rakes under the MUTP-II scheme at ICF, Chennai. Around 3-4 rakes will be manufactured every month.

New features
>> First-of-its-kind stainless-steel coach, side wall and roof panel 
>> Aerodynamic profile of driving cabin for better aesthetics and energy conservation
>> Passenger Information System with double-sided displays
>> PU foam cushioned first-class seats with stainless steel frame, and polycarbonate second-class seats with stainless steel frame
>> Two grab handles with one hook
>> Easy sliding doors with elongated transparent windows at the entrance having special locking

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