As glitches cause frequent delays, WR to phase out retrofitted trains

Published: 06 December, 2013 07:38 IST | Shashank Rao |

With a series of technical faults in the rakes holding up the railway services, the old trains that have been fitted out with new electrics and gadgetry are on their way out

Tired of fixing the frequent glitches in its retrofitted trains, the Western Railway has decided to let go of its retrofitted trains over the next two years. Over the last two years, the WR has been operating retrofitted trains on the Churchgate-Virar railway corridor.

The WR has procured new rakes and can ease its dependence on retrofitted trains. Pics/Nimesh Dave

Until now, they have transformed 14 old trains, which used to run on 1,500-volt direct current (DC) with those that could also run on 25,000-volt alternating current (AC), which is operationally more efficient. With the induction of new Bombardier-make trains, the WR can ease its reliance on the rehashed rakes.

“Retrofitted trains are temporary measures. We make changes to those DC trains that still have another 12-15 years left of their life. Normally, the life of any train is around 25-30 years,” said another WR official. “Once we get the new batch of 72 rakes under MUTP phase-II, the retrofitted rakes will be phased out over the next two years.”

Officials claim retrofitted trains do not accelerate or decelerate fast enough, resulting in bunching, or logjam, on the tracks, especially during rush hours. Their speed is restricted to 80 kmph while the Bombardier rakes can go up to 100 kmph.

Services affected
Motormen intermittently face problems with the train management and braking system and other parts of the console. “Unless these trains don’t cover a certain distance between two signals and the path isn’t cleared, the signal remains red for the train behind,” said an official.

This gradually affects the punctuality of services. Over the last few days, train services have been limping along due to various technical issues such as signal failure, problems in coaches and overhead cables, and other breaches such as trespassing accidents and rooftop travelling, officials said.

Central Railway stuck in retro mode
The Central Railway (CR), on the other hand, will continue operating its retrofitted trains until the authorities complete upgrading the power system on its Main and Harbour lines to 25,000-volt alternating current from the 1,500-volt direct current, which might take a couple of years. They have around 15 retrofitted trains and more will follow.

The CR is trying to get permission from the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) to complete the power upgrade south of Kalyan in the first phase. “A report to the CRS has been submitted on the status of the conversion on Kalyan-Thane and Kurla LTT stretch,” said an official. “We will have to press more retrofitted rakes into operation so the trains can be operated on the upgraded power system,” said a CR official.

Number of old trains on WR that have been transformed to run on 25,000-volt (AC)

Rs 4 cr
Cost of readying a retrofitted rake (approx)

Rs 3 cr
Cost of procuring a brand new rake under MUTP-II

25 yrs
Average lifespan of a train

No of new MUTP phase II rakes 

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