Mumbai: Central Railways gets mucking during lockdown

Updated: Jun 24, 2020, 07:21 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Celebrated muck train fleet clears 40,000 cubic metres of garbage from city's rail tracks during three months of lockdown

The muck train at work
The muck train at work

Central Railway's muck train fleet, which includes old local trains and flat-bed wagons that collect garbage off the tracks every night, has managed to clean up the city's rail tracks across three routes like never before thanks to the lockdown. It has cleared as much as 40,000 cubic metres of garbage from around the tracks in the past three months.

The 'muck train' has been in the spotlight ever since Magsaysay Award winners Prakash Baba Amte and his wife Mandakini Amte successfully answered Amitabh Bachchan's question about it in last season's Kaun Banega Crorepati, winning Rs 25 lakh.

The train was recently used where the hutments/slums are situated between stretches of Mumbai CSMT-Kalyan near Parsik tunnel on both ends, Dombivli station south end on the slow local line side, Vikhroli, between Matunga-Sion at Dhobi ghat, Dharavi and the stretch between CSMT-Masjid-Sandhurst Road. On the harbour line, it ran between CSMT and Mankhurd where a lot of garbage had accumulated at Ravli junction between Wadala and King's Circle, Mahim, between Chembur and Mankhurd, near Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar station.

Central Railway's suburban network is one of the largest in the world, with five corridors having a route length of 336 km. In order to keep the city's tracks clean, these trains run to collect and clean the muck and garbage. During the last 12 months, 95,000 cubic metres of muck/garbage was cleared from the tracks of which 40,000 cubic metres was during the lockdown period.

"The garbage dumped along the tracks not only damages rail tracks but also clogs drains, leading to water-logging issues. Initially, these trains used to operate only during midnight occasionally when services were few, but now, Central Railway has begun to use these all day owing to the lockdown," Central Railway's chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar said.

Eco-friendly dumping
The muck is packed in gunny bags that are loaded onto these special trains. Central Railway runs two old local trains, one each on the main line and harbour line. In addition to this, three flat-type wagons are operated as and when required when the muck is removed with the help of excavator machines.

Earlier, the garbage used to be dumped near the Vashi/Thane creek. This has, however, stopped since April 2016 after much criticism. The garbage is now taken to identified land and construction sites where it is dumped without causing harm to the environment. "We use the debris to fill up sites where railway projects are on to level up the area. CR officials have also identified land with local civic bodies, including the BMC, where the dumping happens without any hindrance to environment norms," an official said.

336 km
Total length of CR's routes

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