Boarding soon: Trials to start for Mumbai-Pune local train

Jan 03, 2019, 20:10 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar

The special 12-car local train with higher braking powers, to help it negotiate the Khandala ghat, will arrive from Chennai's Integral Coach Factory on Jan 10 and full Mumbai-Pune trials will start soon

Boarding soon: Trials to start for Mumbai-Pune local train
The Deccan Queen that currently runs between Pune and Mumbai. The proposed local train will run between CSMT and Pune. Pic/IndianRailways.info

Local trains between Mumbai and Pune might become a reality after all. In a letter, the Central Railway (CR) has requested the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai to design a 12-car train with higher braking powers to enable it to run smoothly in hilly terrain between the state's financial capital and its cultural capital.

CR has been sending missives to the ICF since June 2018, requesting the local for Mumbai-Pune travel. They sent a third letter on December 13, 2018 (mid-day has a copy) where CR's principal chief mechanical engineer asked the manufacturers to design a special 12-car local train with higher braking powers so as to enable it to run in the mountainous and hilly terrain of the Khandala ghat section during trials between Mumbai and Pune.

Expected on Jan 10
"We've requested ICF to turn out a 12-car EMU train with parking brakes on 32 wheels, instead of the existing 16 wheels, for various mandatory trials like emergency braking distance, coupler force and controllability in the south east section between Karjat and Lonavala. The railway board has been insisting on early trials of this with the research, design and standards organisation, the technical consultant of Indian Railways. Since ICF is yet to manufacture six trains for Central Railway, we have requested them to manufacture one with enhanced brakes for CSMT-Pune local trials," said a senior CR official.

Apart from Mumbai and Pune, CR had earlier discussed running EMU locals between Mumbai and Nashik. But passenger associations say Mumbai-Pune is more important. Pic for representation/Getty Images
Apart from Mumbai and Pune, CR had earlier discussed running EMU locals between Mumbai and Nashik. But passenger associations say Mumbai-Pune is more important. Pic for representation/Getty Images

The suggestion was originally put up by retired chief locomotive inspector Waman Sangle, at the Rail Vikas Shivir in 2016. "I submitted a 70-page technical report on the feasibility of the run. Originally, the trials were conducted with existing local trains, but the railways decided to get special local trains from Chennai with more powerful parking brakes and door closing. The train is expected to arrive by January 10 and trials will happen soon," Sangle said.

Why the special local?
The railway distance between CSMT and Pune is 192 km. Of this, local trains already run between the 99.72 km distance of CSMT and Karjat, and the 64 km distance between Lonavala and Pune. However, there are no local trains between the 28 km stretch of Karjat and Lonavala, which is very mountainous and has gradients that incline, requiring steep climbs and slopes, in addition to several tunnels and viaducts on the way. Due to these reasons, a local that can traverse all of this terrain is required.

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EMU and MEMU
Technicality was the only problem with the plan to run locals between Mumbai and Pune. As per railway board instructions, Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) locals are primarily meant for suburban transport and not supposed to travel beyond 150 kmph due limitations in their design like lack of toilets, no vestibule and limited powers. On the other hand, the Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) are ideally supposed to be used for long-distance and inter-city travel. However, the recent changes in EMU trains brought in by ICF have provided them with a vestibule and additional powers of higher torque, acceleration and de-acceleration, thus clearing the hurdles.

Waman Sangle
Waman Sangle

Since 1978
Apart from Mumbai and Pune, CR had earlier discussed running EMU locals between Mumbai and Nashik too. But passenger associations say Mumbai-Pune is more important. Every day, more than 7,000 passengers arrive to Mumbai in three early morning trains - namely the Deccan Queen, the Pragati Express and the Sinhagad Express - from Pune. This is in addition to the thousands of road transport vehicles that jam the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and highways to make their way into the city.

Harsha Shah, chairperson of the Mumbai-Pune railway passenger group said, "Mumbai-Pune local rail connectivity has been a demand since March 1978, when the Lonavala-Pune local trains were started. Once upon a time, trials of local trains had also been held, but no one took them seriously. If the railways can think of Nashik-Mumbai trials, Pune should not be left behind."

192km
Railway distance between CSMT and Pune

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